“Adverse Food Environments” Linked with Higher Risk of Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes

A New York study showed that living in an area with a high-density of available junk food can make you more likely to have diabetes.

The surprising result of the study wasn’t that type 2 diabetes was more prevalent in junk food dense areas, but that type 1 diabetes was also associated with “adverse food environments.”

Overabundance of fast food options in someone’s neighborhood could have serious consequences.

Photo: flickr/Joseph Cerulli
Photo: flickr/Joseph Cerulli

The study on people in New York City looked at the concentration of fast food in certain neighborhoods compared to the number of people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes who lived in those neighborhoods. The findings showed a higher density of type 1 and type 2 diabetes in areas with higher concentrations of fast food restaurants.

This was surprising because type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease not typically associated with eating habits, and the causes of type 1 are unknown, though there are various theories regarding the cause.

Photo: AdobeStock/happy_lark
Photo: AdobeStock/happy_lark

Dr. David Lee of the New York University School of Medicine authored the study. “Our research suggests that an adverse food environment has an important influence in type 1 diabetes, and a more thorough investigation of genetics, health behaviors and cultural influences should be considered for type 2 diabetes,” he said.

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Photo: AdobeStock/kaliantye
Photo: AdobeStock/kaliantye

Dr. Lee believes that cultural eating patterns need to be examined as a possible risk factor for diabetes, though the study was only able to establish a link, not a cause. Further study is needed.

Photo: AdobeStock/luckybusiness
Photo: AdobeStock/luckybusiness

This study brings up, once again, questions around social and economic disease factors. Type 2 diabetes is associated with poverty in part because those in poverty tend to have poorer access to nutritious food. There may be similar correlations for type 1 that are not yet understood.

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