The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to spend time with your nearest and dearest family members and friends. But what about people who don’t have a close network of loved ones nearby? Even if you don’t know these folks too well, it may be worthwhile to reach out to them this Christmas, because you might help them stay healthy, according to a new study.
New research published in the BMC Public Health Journal found a surprising link between loneliness and type 2 diabetes. Researchers at Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands studied 2,861 people, about a third of whom were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes either before or during the study. They used a questionnaire to gather details about their subjects’ friend networks, frequency of contact with said friends, and how far away they lived from these people. They found that people with a smaller network of close contacts had a strong association with a new or previous diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. This rang true for both men and women in the study.
For women, the proximity of how close their friends lived to them made a huge difference. Having lots of friends close by made it less likely for them to get the diagnosis. For men, those who had housemates were far less likely to get the diagnosis than men who didn’t live with others. Though the underlying reasons for this association have not yet been found, the study’s authors say the implications of the study are clear.
“Our findings support the idea that resolving social isolation may help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes,” said Stephanie Brinkhues, the study’s lead author.
It never hurts for us to do our part in helping other people stay healthy. So why not reach out to someone who you know has no one to spend time with this holiday? Maybe there’s an empty spot at your Christmas Eve dinner table that’s waiting to be filled. Maybe you have an extra card that could be sent to someone. Maybe there’s someone at a nursing home with no visitors in his or her room. We know that Christmas is always a hectic and busy time, but you never know the impact that you can have on someone just by reaching out.
Sometimes, a little bit of help truly goes a long way!
h/t Science Alert