Men are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than men of any other demographic. The prevalence of the disease is more than double in men than in women. Why? Researchers haven’t been able to pinpoint a single reason for this gender gap, but it’s believed that there could be several factors involved. Men have higher levels of testosterone, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. They also tend to be less aware of their body and eat unhealthier than women. Men with type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and its associated complications as well as dying sooner as a result of these complications or related conditions such as stroke or infections. With early detection and management, however, you can lead a long and healthy life with type 2 diabetes.
Man vs. Women: Differences in Type 2 Diabetes
Most of the research done on diabetes has been focused on women, and much less is known about the disease in men. That’s because the symptoms appear to be different in men, which makes them less likely to engage in screening tests and follow-up care. The progression of the disease is expected to be faster in men as compared to women, with poorer outcomes and higher mortality rates. Type 2 diabetes appears to be underdiagnosed in men, and they are also less likely to be treated or referred to a diabetes educator than women. The cause of type 2 diabetes is also different between men and women. Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disorder caused by the body’s inability to produce enough insulin or the ability to use it properly. In women, the disease is more likely to be caused by genetic factors, family history of diabetes, and high body weight or BMI.
As people age, the risk of type 2 diabetes increases. Men who are 45 years or older are more likely to develop the disease than younger men. The risk is even more significant for men who are over the age of 65. Type 2 diabetes is often referred to as “adult-onset” diabetes because it is usually diagnosed in adults (though it can also affect children). As we age, our bodies experience changes that make it more difficult to control blood sugar. Hormonal changes, such as reduced levels of estrogen in menopausal women, are believed to be partly responsible.
Ethnicity plays a role in the development of type 2 diabetes, as well. Type 2 diabetes is more common in Hispanic, African-American, and Native American adults than in other ethnic groups. Asian-American adults, however, have a lower risk of developing the disease than other ethnic groups. It is unclear why these patterns exist. One explanation is that certain genetic factors may contribute to the disease in certain ethnicities, but not in others. There may also be differences in lifestyle, diet, and access to health care between ethnic groups.
Physical Activity Gap
Physical activity has several benefits for people living with type 2 diabetes, including helping to prevent the disease from occurring in the first place, managing weight, lowering blood sugar, and increasing insulin sensitivity. Among people who are at high risk of type 2 diabetes, regular physical activity lowers the risk of developing the disease by about 50 percent. For people who already have type 2 diabetes, regular physical activity can help to reduce blood sugar levels, LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, body weight, and body fat. Regular physical activity is essential for managing type 2 diabetes, but it’s important to get the right type of exercise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend aerobic exercises (like walking, biking, or swimming), resistance training (such as lifting weights), or a combination of the two.
Diet and Body Composition Gap
Keep in mind that diet and body composition are closely related. For example, eating a high-fat diet is associated with obesity, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Similarly, regular exercise can help people maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity, which can also help prevent type 2 diabetes. Healthy eating habits are essential for preventing type 2 diabetes and managing the disease if you have it. A healthy eating plan is high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in saturated fat and sodium. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends that people with type 2 diabetes eat about 45 to 65 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, about 10 to 35 percent from fat, and about 10 to 35 percent from protein.
Other Factors to Consider
Men who have a family history of type 2 diabetes should be especially diligent about managing their weight and following a healthy diet. Men who have diabetes have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease than women. They also tend to die sooner than women who have the disease. In addition to the risk factors mentioned above, keep in mind that certain ethnicities (such as Hispanic, African-American, and Native American) and older adults are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes. If any of these factors apply to you, you should be especially diligent about checking for signs of the disease and speaking with your health care provider about testing and management options.