Men more likely to die from diabetes because of unwillingness to follow a diet and exercise plans, study finds

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Men are more likely than women to die from diabetes because they are unwilling to follow specific, tailored diets, according to new research.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, urged men to follow to tailored advice provided by their diabetes care team.

Structured personal diabetes care has been advocated as a way to improve treatment outcomes. Rather than offering the same blanket advice to each patient, it takes into account factors specific to the individual, and assigns a regimen of diet and exercise tailored to each patient.

In women, structured personal diabetes care reduced the risk of death from diabetes by 30 per cent. When the same advice was applied to men, it had no effect on their mortality. According to the researchers, this is due to a greater willingness on the part of women to accept and follow tailored treatment plans.

“Women accept disease and implement disease management more easily, which might affect long-term outcomes,” said Dr. Marlene Krag, of the University of Copenhagen.

Structured diabetes care goes against “men’s tendency to trust self-directed learning instead of self-management,” she added.

How was the study conducted?

The study assessed a Danish trial in which participants were provided with tailored advice about diet and exercise. The trial took place between 1989 and 1995. Doctors were discouraged from prescribing diabetes drugs unless the diet and exercise regimen didn’t work.

At the end of the trial, women receiving structured, personalised treatment had lower blood glucose levels.

After assessing that trial, the researchers followed the participants of the original study for another 13 years – until 2008.

970 of the original 1,381 participants had survived the original study – 478 women and 492 men. Their results showed that women who received personalised care plans were 26 per cent less likely to die of any causes, and 30 per cent less likely to die of a diabetes-related cause, compared to women who received routine care. The same group of women was 41 per cent less likely to develop stroke and 35 per cent less likely to develop severe complications, such as amputation or blindness.

No such improvements were seen in the men who took part in the study. Routine care and personalised, structured care led to similar results.

“We propose that the improved outcomes in women may be explained by complex social and cultural issues of gender,” the authors wrote. They also noted the need to re-think the provision of care to men and women “so that both sexes benefit from intensified treatment efforts.”

The findings are published in Diabetologia.