Men's health * 50+ health * Healthy living

Older men diabetes warning

Zone default image Over-50s twice as likely to have undiagnosed diabetes

Men over the age of 50 are almost twice as likely to have undiagnosed diabetes compared to women of the same age, new research has found.

In a study involving 6,739 people between the ages of 52 and 79, 502 were found to have type 2 diabetes.

Of the men with diabetes, 22% were unaware they had the condition before the study began, compared with 12% of the women.

Results from the study, published in the journal Diabetic Medicine, also found people had a greater risk of having undiagnosed diabetes if they had a high Body Mass Index (BMI), a large waist, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.

Dr. Mary Pierce of University College London, who led the study, said: “The higher numbers of men with undiagnosed diabetes in this study may be explained by the fact that women go to their GP more often and are therefore screened more often.

“There needs to be much greater testing of overweight and obese people as well as those with other risk factors for diabetes.”

Simon O’Neill, Head of Care, Information and Advocacy at the charity Diabetes UK said: “Diabetes is extremely serious and the longer it is left undiagnosed and untreated, the greater the risk of developing devastating complications such as blindness, stroke, kidney failure, amputation and heart disease.

"Type 2 diabetes can go undetected for more than 10 years which means that around half of people already have complications by the time they are diagnosed.

“Men are generally worse at looking after their health than women. We already know that middle-aged men are twice as likely to have diabetes than women and that, consistently, more men are overweight than women and so at greater risk of Type 2 diabetes. This research suggests this pattern is the same for men over 50 who don’t realise they have diabetes."

Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes

  • Having a large waist or being overweight
  • Being of Black or South Asian origin
  • Having a family history of the condition
  • Being over the age of 40, or over 25 if you’re Black or South Asian

At risk waist measurements are 37 inches or more for men, except those of South Asian origin who are at risk at 35 inches or more, and 31.5 inches or more for all women.

Warning signs of type 2 diabetes

  • Increased thirst
  • Having to pee all the time, especially at night
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Blurred vision
  • Genital itching or regular episodes of thrush
  • Wounds which are slow to heal

This article was published on Mon 2 November 2009

Image © Lack-O'Keen -

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