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Diabetes warning to over-50s

New research suggests men over 50 are nearly twice as likely to have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes than their female counterparts, warns leading health charity Diabetes UK today.

Published in the journal Diabetic Medicine, a nationally-representative study of 6,739 52 to 79 year olds found 502 to have diabetes. Of the men with diabetes 22% did not realise they had the condition before the study compared to 12% of the women.

Simon O'Neill, Head of Care, Information and Advocacy at Diabetes UK, said: "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.

"It's vital men of all ages take better care of their health and are made more aware of the risk factors and symptoms of diabetes. Older men, especially if they are at risk of diabetes, should have regular check ups with their GP."

The study 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. Wealth, education, social class, ethnicity, age, and smoking status were not shown to significantly increase the risk.

Mary Pierce of University College London, and lead author of 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."

Diabetes UK has recently launched its "Get Serious" campaign, which aims to get as many people as possible to join Diabetes UK in the fight against diabetes, one of the UK's biggest health challenges. The charity is asking people to sign up to the campaign and show their support. This could be by pledging to make healthy lifestyle changes, fundraising, campaigning or volunteering.

Diabetes UK