Having a poorly paid 55 hour working week increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 30 per cent compared to people working 35 to 40 hours.
The research was carried out by University College London and published in the journal the Lancet: Diabetes and Endocrinology. The researchers reviewed a number of different clinical studies which included over 220,000 participants from Europen, the United States, Australia and Japan.
To ensure no significant bias was involved within the study, the researchers took account of factors such as age, gender, BMI, smoking status and physical activity. The researchers also noted that the 30% increased diabetes risk remained even when shift workers were excluded from the analysis. Shift workers are another group of workers that have previously been shown to have high risks of developing diabetes.
The study did not aim to investigate why low paid jobs with long working hours was connected with such a significant increase in diabetes risk but we can at least speculate as to why a higher risk was observed.
Long working hours would certainly result in having less time available in which to plan and cook meals. Less free time could also be problematic for workers in jobs involving little movement as the long working hours would provide less time in which to exercise.
Low wages would reduce choice in food. Fresh meat, fish and vegetables are not cheap and families on low incomes often feel forced to turn to relatively cheap sources of calories made from refined carbohydrates such as white bread, rice and pasta.
In addition to impacting upon diet and activity, long working weeks and low wages may contribute to increased levels of stress which is another factor linked with increased risk of diabetes.
The results of the study beg the question whether not working at all would further minimise diabetes risk? Previous research has helped to answer that question. A study published in 2013 showed that sustained periods of unemployment raised the risk of diabetes as well.

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