In a recent study, researchers from Saint Louis University find that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) does not directly lead to type 2 diabetes, instead obesity in people with PTSD accounts for the increased risk.
PTSD is associated with risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including poor diet, lack of exercise, alcohol abuse and obesity.
The risk factors may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Previous research has shown that patients with PTSD have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes compared to those without PTSD or without a mental health condition.
But these studies have not examined the direct effect of obesity on diabetes risk in PTSD.
In the study, the researchers examined if obesity, which is more common in patients with PTSD, accounted for the increased risk of diabetes.
They used medical record data collected between 2008-2015 from 2,204 Veterans Health Affairs patients without PTSD and 3,450 patients with PTSD.
Of the patients without PTSD, the average age of the patients was 47.7 years. Of the cohort of patients with PTSD, the average age of the patients was 42.8 years.
The researchers found that the incidence of type 2 diabetes was similar in patients with PTSD and obesity compared to patients without PTSD but obese.
Similarly, the incidence of diabetes in non-obese patients with and without PTSD was close.
This means the risk of diabetes in patients with PTSD who are not obese is like that of the general U.S. population without obesity.
In other words, preventing obesity is more important for avoiding type 2 diabetes.
The researchers suggest that diabetes prevention should target weight management for both patients with and without PTSD.
Patients with PTSD often find it harder to lose weight. They may require new interventions to help manage weight and mitigate risk of developing diabetes.
This study was supported by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, R01HL125424.
Study author Jeffrey Scherrer, Ph.D. is professor of family and community medicine at Saint Louis University.
The study is published in JAMA Psychiatry.
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Source: JAMA Psychiatry.