Diabetes: the context
- 415 millions of people are affected by diabetes - 7 million of new cases per year.
- According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) “1/10 adults will be suffering from diabetes in 2040 (642 million people)”. The IDF states that diabetes has a huge impact on worldwide economics: it absorbs the 12% of the sanitary expenditure (equivalent to €600 billion).
- Monash University (Australia) documents that, due to incorrect diagnostic tests, the amount of people currently suffering from diabetes is underestimated. The correct quota is actually 520 million.
Prevention is the best cure of the diabetes: the Danish study
Type 2 diabetes can be partially prevented with a healthy, active lifestyle. In fact, a recent study from the Syddansk Universitet (Denmark) examined prospective associations between recreational and commuter cycling, changes in cycling habits, and risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in Danish adults from the Diet, Cancer and Health cohort study.
The study published on The Plos Journal, tested almost 25000 men and 28000 women ranging from 50 to 65 years old and tested between 1993 and 1997. Within these 5 years, the researchers analyzed the state of health of the participants and harvest information on their lifestyle, in particular on the level of physical activity performed and nutrition.
The aim of the work was to demonstrate that even a simple task like commuting by bike, can prevent diabetes. The results of the study were clear: cycling reduces the risk of getting diabetes, and the more people ride, the less likely they would be affected by the disease. In addition, positive effects were also obtained starting to exercise late in life, e.g. after the 50’s.
Why this study is different from the previous ones
This study has been conducted to evaluate whether cycling specifically, is beneficial for the prevention of diabetes in Denmark, when engaged in regular cycling activities.In the previous studies, no strong evidences were found linking diabetes with active transport, combining cycling and walking.
Commuter and recreational cycling was consistently associated with lower risk of T2D in Danish adults. More precisely, the study indicated that those who started to use a bicycle later in life reduced the risk of getting diabetes by an average of 20%. Regardless of health, diet or physical condition the benefits of cycling on diabetes will still be apparent.