A link has been found between type 1 diabetes prevalence and concentrated areas of fast food restaurants in New York, a study reveals.
Scientists from New York University School of Medicine discovered hot spots of type 1 diabetes, among both children and adults, in areas with more fast food restaurants.
While the findings indicate merely an associatio, they are intriguing because type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease and not traditionally associated with cultural influences.
The researchers say further trials are needed to investigate this link, and to explore whether certain neighbourhoods face a higher risk of diabetes.
The findings also revealed higher rates of type 2 diabetes in areas where junk food was prevalent. Only children with type 2 diabetes did not share this association.
Study author Dr David Lee, from New York University School of Medicine in New York, said: “Traditionally, we’ve associated type 1 diabetes with genetics and type 2 diabetes with obesity.
“Our research suggests that an adverse food environment has an important influence in type 1 diabetes, and a more thorough investigation of genetics, health behaviours and cultural influences should be considered for type 2 diabetes.”
The data for the trial was collected from records of people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes, who visited an emergency hospital ward between 2009-2013 in New York.
Among the findings, young people were revealed to be more likely to have type 1 diabetes if they lived in predominately black communities.
Dr Lee said: “Future studies should seek to further validate these methods of estimating type 1 and type 2 diabetes prevalence among adults and children using alternative data sources.
“Factors like cultural dietary patterns and ingrained patterns of belief around how one develops diabetes should be explored to determine what causes certain neighbourhoods to face a much higher burden of disease.”
The study has been published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society.

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