Partner Violence, Child abuse May Increase Diabetes Risk Later In Life: Study


Scientists have discovered that victims of partner violence and child abuse face a 20 per cent increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life. According to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier, exposure to interpersonal violence throughout childhood or adulthood increases the chance of developing adult-onset diabetes and the risk level is similar among adult males and females.

While previous research has linked exposure to interpersonal violence with a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, “our study is the first to confirm a consistent association among different genders and races within a large, diverse population,” said Maureen Sanderson, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee.

“Moreover, we were able to establish the temporal sequence for experiencing violence and the subsequent risk of developing diabetes over time,” Sanderson added.

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The investigators took a deeper look at the relationship between these factors, particularly obesity, and the risk of developing adult-onset diabetes using data from the Southern Community Cohort Study. More than 25,000 participants were contacted multiple times from 2002 to 2015, answering questions about partner violence, child abuse and neglect and current health (including diagnoses for adult-onset diabetes).

“From this uniquely diverse cohort of over 25,000 participants, we saw that two commonly occurring forms of interpersonal violence, partner violence and child abuse (36 per cent and 32 per cent, respectively, in the study group), increased the risk of developing adult-onset diabetes by 20-35 per cent,” said Ann Coker from College of Medicine and Center for Research on Violence Against Women, University of Kentucky.

These forms of violence increase the risk of trauma-associated stress disorders, which can cause adult-onset diabetes, she mentioned. Experiencing both child abuse and adult violence increased the risk of developing diabetes by 35 per cent for both Black and White participants and males and females. Rates of interpersonal violence, psychosocial distress, and obesity all increased during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The findings that lifetime interpersonal violence was associated with a significantly high risk of developing diabetes before the additional social stress of the pandemic “strongly suggests the need for helping professionals across disciplines to implement effective violence prevention and intervention strategies to reduce the social and health consequences of partner violence and child abuse,” Sanderson noted.


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