People in certain occupations are 3 times more likely to have type 2 diabetes than others in other jobs, possibly due to lifestyle factors, a nationwide study in Sweden shows.
Attracting these workers to increase physical activity may be the first step to prevent the disease, researchers say.
"The way to target the workplace is by finding the highest-risk employees," study leader Dr. Sofia Carlson of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Carolina Institute
"We wanted to go through all the professions throughout the Swedish population and see where the highest risks and prevalence of diabetes are. "
About 7 percent of adult Swedes and 4.2 percent of the working population have diabetes.
Carlson's team uses population registers to identify more than 4.5 million Swedish citizens, born between 1
Diabetes rates vary depending on the profession, from 2.5% to 8.8% in men and 1.2% to 6.4% in women, researchers report at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and the journal Diabetologia.
Among professional male drivers, for example, 8.8 percent had diabetes, as did 7.8 percent of workers in manufacturing, but only 2.5 percent of computer scientists.
Among women, the prevalence is highest among manufacturing workers, 6.4 percent, followed by kitchen assistants (5.5%) and cleaning products (5.1%). It is the lowest among specialized managers – 1.2%.
Professional drivers, manufacturing workers and cleaners are at highest risk and irregular hours and shifts, stress and sleep time associated with these occupations may be the cause, Carlson said.
"We see risk factors at the beginning of a working career and this can be addressed through workplace intervention," she added.
Although the association is not the same as the cause-and-effect relationship, the research provides guidance for next steps, said Dr. Ronald Tamler, professor of medicine, endocrinology, diabetes and bone disease at Icahn Medical School in Mount Sinai, New York, who did not participate in the study.
'Is there a causal effect in certain professions and if so, how can we mitigate it? "
Carlson cited US attempts to implement diabetes prevention programs in the workplace.
"A randomized clinical trial in the United States in the early 2000s showed lifestyle modifications cationic counseling reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by about half," she said.
And this did not ask many people with diabetes: "5 percent weight loss, more physical activity and 70 minutes of brisk walking every day," says Carlson.
The findings are also significant for the US population, where according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 10 people have diabetes.
In earlier studies in the US, professional drivers and shift workers were more likely to have diabetes.
"In the United States, too, people with lower socio-economic status, less physical activity, poor access to health care, and lower health literacy are at greater risk," Tamler said.  "In the end, diabetes is a huge driver of health care costs and a significant source of absenteeism," Tamler said, adding that this study offers employers a chance to start preventative programs.