For years people have believed that obesity and family history are major risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. New Canadian research has found that being poor can double or sometimes triple the probability.

“What we know about Type 2 diabetes is not only are low-income and poor people more likely to get it, but they're also the ones that, once they get it, are much more likely to suffer complications,” Prof. Dennis Raphael, a professor of health policy and management at York leading the research said.

“And the complications from Type 2 diabetes when they're bad are really bad, whether it's amputation, or blindness, or cardiovascular disease.” Data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) and the National Population Health Survey (NPHS) were analyzed and compared and found to be consistent. The study noted that those earning less than $15,000 per year were twice as much at risk as compared to those earning more than $80,000 a year. However, they noted risk remains the same when other factors were taken into account.

Researchers discovered shocking findings in the case of women. For women earning less, the risk is more than triple the risk of those having higher incomes. Living in poverty ups the risk of diabetes by 26 per cent, according to the analysis of NHP Survey.

Though obesity and sedentary lifestyles continue to remain key risk factors, researchers say the poor needs to be attended first, noting that these low income groups were prone to a variety of diseases including diabetes. They noted that being short of money can increase levels of cortisol in the blood, a hormone that gets released when the body is stressed. In turn, that leads to various other diseases.

The study also questioned 60 diabetic patients from a low-income Toronto neighborhood and found that they found it very tough to manage the disease due to their poor economic status.

In fact, a lot of them had to choose between paying rent or feeding their children and managing their disease.

Michelle Westin, a community health worker noticed a number of other barriers too. Medical equipment like test strips often were costly. These patients often had very less or no access to healthy food. Further their current stress levels also lead to rising levels of blood sugar.

Raphael asserts that the government needs to tackle the related issues of unemployment, under employment, housing, food security and health coverage and manage the economy in the service of all.