Updated 06 February 2017

City life may increase your diabetes risk

Less exercise and bigger waistlines in city dwellers may set the stage for an explosion of diabetes. Health-e News documents what people have for lunch in Downtown, Johannesburg.


South Africa’s National Development Plan estimates that 70 percent of us will call cities home by 2030. City living has its perks, but they could come at a cost to your health.

Explosion of diabetes

Whether work or school brings you to the big city, the move could spell trouble for your health. In South Africa and globally, growing urbanisation has been meant less exercise and bigger waistlines for city dwellers – and may set the stage for an explosion of diabetes.

Read: Diabetes: Africa's hidden pandemic

South Africa’s growing shift to urban living is expected to help fuel an almost 50 percent increase in diabetes cases by the year 2035, according to the International Diabetes Federation. 

Obesity and a poor diet can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes. As the City of Johannesburg launches a new programme to increase diabetes screening among residents, we took to Jozi streets to see what’s for lunch.

Infographic: What's happening with the health of South Africans?

Other factors that increase your risk for type 2 diabetes:

  • Lack of physical activity: Physical activity increases your cells' sensitivity to insulin.
  • Family history: If a parent or sibling has diabetes you have a higher risk.
  • Age: As you grow older your diabetes risk increases. 
  • Race: Certain races are at higher risk for diabetes than others. 
  • High blood pressure: Blood pressure over 140/90 is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Cholesterol and triglyceride levels: Abnormal levels can increase your risk.
  • Gestational diabetes: A history of gestational diabetes can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Read more:

The importance of managing your diabetes

Fitness in youth may protect you from diabetes later in life

Could you have diabetes without realising it?

Image: Snapshot of the YouTube video


Ask the Expert

Diabetes expert

Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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