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  • Writer's pictureTo Your Health Editorial Staff

Surrounded by Fast Food? Your Diabetes Risk Just Skyrocketed

Type 2 diabetes doesn't have a single cause; there are a number of contributing factors that can impact your risk of developing the condition. But one thing is for sure: You don't have to avoid it at all costs. Doing so means focusing your attention on lifestyle variables such as healthy eating (particularly foods that don't spike your blood sugar), consistent physical activity and maintaining an appropriate weight for your height / weight and body type.

Speaking of healthy eating, researchers have determined that where you live could play a major role in whether you develop type 2 diabetes or avoid it; specifically your proximity to fast-food restaurants vs. supermarkets. Living in a neighborhood with high availability of fast-food restaurants increases your risk, regardless of what type of neighborhood or area of the country you live in.

Published in JAMA Network Open, the study found that diabetes risk increased with the number of fast-food restaurants in each of four distinct neighborhood types: high-density urban, low-density urban, suburban, and rural. Just as interesting, availability of supermarkets had an inverse impact on diabetes risk: the higher the availability, the lower the risk of residents developing type 2 diabetes. Certainly supermarkets offer countless diabetes-unfriendly processed and sugary foods as well, but one can assume that in general, they create more opportunities to make healthy choices than do fast-food restaurants.

The study authors suggests that "policies to shift the mix of fast-food restaurant and supermarket distribution in neighborhoods may be associated with reduced diabetes risk." But don't wait for policies to be enacted. Take these findings to heart by recognizing the diabetes danger in eating fast food, and ask yourself these three questions: 1) How often do I eat fast food (daily and weekly)? 2) How difficult would it be to shift toward doing more grocery shopping and eating / preparing more meals at home? 3) Isn't it worth it to reduce my risk of type 2 diabetes?

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