As type 2 diabetes mellitus is becoming more prevalent across the globe, a new study carried out by Marisa Miraldo of Imperial College Business School in London, United Kingdom, and her colleagues have found that living near fast-food restaurants in South East Asia could increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The study report, published in the open-access publication PLoS Medicine noted that diet and obesity, the prominent risk factors are influenced by food surroundings.

Blood sugar levels (Representational Picture)Pixabay

 Fast food outlets and the risk of diabetes

However, in low- and middle-income nations, the connection between food surroundings and diet is underexplored. Researchers integrated cross-sectional health data with environment mapping surveys for 12,167 persons residing in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka from 2018 to 2020 to investigate the links between the density and proximity of nutritious and bad food outlets and diabetes.

The researchers discovered that a higher density of fast food outlets near a person's house was linked to an 8 percent increase in their chances of being diagnosed with diabetes. Having at least one fast-food restaurant within walking distance of one's house was linked to an increase in blood glucose of 2.14 mg/dL. In addition, women and those with a high income were more likely to develop diabetes mellitus.

"Our findings demonstrate that treatments focusing on the environment may be useful in avoiding diabetes. However, the variability of the effects revealed in our research implies that more targeted interventions may be required," wrote the authors in the study report. 

Rising diabetes cases add up to the worries

The authors added, "One-size-fits-all built-environment interventions have not improved diabetes outcomes, and further study is needed to determine which food-environment interventions might enhance diabetes outcomes in this geographic region and population."

Miraldo mentions that diabetes affects 1 in 11 individuals in South Asia, resulting in 747,000 unnecessary deaths each year. According to their findings, residing near at least one fast-food restaurant increases one's chances of being diagnosed with diabetes by 16 percent.

With the number of diabetics in Southeast Asia expected to rise to 113 million by 2030 and to encourage better diets, Southeast Asian food and beverage businesses must strengthen their sustainability strategies, asserted the study report.