Manufacturers and cleaners ‘more likely to get type 2 diabetes’

Workers in manufacturing, driving and cleaning jobs ‘are more likely to get type 2 diabetes because of their unhealthy lifestyles’

  • Scientists studied almost five million people in 30 occupations
  • In 2013, 4.2% of workers had diabetes, highest in male drivers at 8.8% 
  • Researchers found corresponding high BMI and lack of exercise 
  • The lowest prevalence of diabetes was teachers, physiotherapists and dentists 

Workers in manufacturing, driving and cleaning jobs are more likely to get type 2 diabetes, according to a study of almost five million people.

They face a two to threefold increase in risk compared with teachers, physiotherapists and dentists.

Scientists blamed unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as a lack of exercise and smoking, for the ‘striking differences’.

Figures showed across occupations, prevalence of type 2 diabetes in men ranged from 8.8 per cent in motor vehicle drivers to 2.5 per cent in male computer scientists

If bosses helped their employees to live healthily, the researchers estimated almost half of type 2 diabetes cases could be avoided.


Type 2 diabetes is a condition which causes a person’s blood sugar to get too high.

More than 4million people in the UK are thought to have some form of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with being overweight and you may be more likely to get it if it’s in the family.

The condition means the body does not react properly to insulin – the hormone which controls absorption of sugar into the blood – and cannot properly regulate sugar glucose levels in the blood.

Excess fat in the liver increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes as the buildup makes it harder to control glucose levels, and also makes the body more resistant to insulin. 

Weight loss is the key to reducing liver fat and getting symptoms under control.

Symptoms include tiredness, feeling thirsty, and frequent urination.

It can lead to more serious problems with nerves, vision and the heart.

Treatment usually involves changing your diet and lifestyle, but more serious cases may require medication.

Source: NHS Choices;

The study by the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm looked at 30 of the most common occupations and covered 4,550,892 Swedes.

Researchers followed up the incidence of diabetes at age 35 or over in participants from 2006 to 2015. They found that 4.2 per cent of the working population had the illness but the rate in men ranged from 8.8 per cent in motor vehicle drivers to 2.5 per cent in computer scientists.

The range for women was from 6.4 per cent in manufacturing to 1.2 per cent among specialist managers. Factory workers had up to 80 per cent more risk of developing diabetes than the general working population.

But male university teachers and female physiotherapists and dentists had a 45 per cent reduced risk.

The study’s authors said: ‘To reduce the future diabetes burden it is crucial to curb the inflow of new patients. If a job title can be used as a risk indicator of type 2 diabetes, it can be used to identify groups for targeted interventions, and hopefully inspire employers to implement prevention programmes tailored to their workforces.’

The researchers also looked into lifestyle habits and found a clear link between diabetes and obesity and lack of exercise.

Dr Katarina Kos, a senior lecturer in diabetes and obesity at the University of Exeter, said: ‘This study shows that certain working environments require an increasing focus in introducing lifestyle change.

‘Increasingly we learn that sedentary jobs with little flexibility to take intermittent breaks are unhealthy in the longer term.’

Emma Elvin, a senior clinical adviser at Diabetes UK, said: ‘The important point to make clear here is that this study does not suggest that doing manufacturing, driving or cleaning jobs directly increase your risk.’

The study will be will be published in the journal Diabetologia.


Motor-vehicle drivers – 8.77%

Manufacturing labourers – 7.75%

Agricultural and other mobile plant operators – 7.21%

Personal carers – 7.12%

Office clerks – 7.14%


Manufacturing labourers – 6.42%

Cleaners – 5.09%

Kitchen assistants – 5.45% 

Cooks, waitresses and housekeepers – 4.06%

Personal carers – 4.31% 


Manufacturing labourers –  6.42 per cent

Cleaners – 5.09 per cent

Kitchen assistants – 5.45 per cent 

Cooks, waitresses and housekeepers – 4.06 per cent

Personal carers – 4.31 per cent

Cashiers, tellers and related clerks – 4.17 per cent 

Social work associate professionals – 3.12 per cent

Office clerks – 3.83 per cent 

Client information clerks – 3.24 per cent 

Total working population – 3.17 per cent

Retail salespersons – 2.86 per cent

Numerical clerks – 3.35 per cent

Office secretaries and data entry operators – 3.55 per cent

Health professionals – 2.71 per cent 

Managers of small enterprises – 2.18 per cent 

Engineers and technicians – 1.9 per cent

Accountants – 2.63 per cent

Nurses – 2.44 per cent

Public service administrative professionals – 2.21 per cent

Psychologists and social workers – 2.42 per cent

Finance and sales associate professionals – 1.73 per cent  

Preschool and recreation teachers – 2.12 per cent 

Computer scientists – 1.47 per cent 

Production and operations managers – 1.99 per cent

Midwifes and specialist nurses – 2.19 per cent

Business professionals – 1.67 per cent

Elementary school teachers – 1.98 per cent

Senior high school teachers – 1.98 per cent

Specialist managers – 1.17 per cent 

Writers, creative or performing artists – 1.29 per cent 

Physiotherapists and dental hygienists – 1.60 per cent


Motor-vehicle drivers – 8.77 per cent

Manufacturing labourers – 7.75 per cent 

Agricultural and other mobile plant operators – 7.21 per cent

Personal carers – 7.12 per cent

Office clerks – 7.14 per cent  

Stores and transport clerks – 6.12 per cent 

Metal- and mineral-products machine operators – 6.09 per cent

Machine operators – 5.75 per cent

Retail salespersons – 5.35 per cent

Metal moulders. welders and sheetmetal workers – 5.29 per cent

Assemblers – 5.33 per cent

Building finishers and related trades workers – 5.72 per cent 

Machinery mechanics and fitters – 5.36 per cent

Total working population – 5.19 per cent 

Electrical and electronic equipment mechanics – 5.48 per cent 

Managers of small enterprises – 5.29 per cent

Construction workers- 4.13 per cent

Computer technicians and data operators – 3.64 per cent

Accountants – 5.53 per cent

Finance and sales associate professionals – 4.01 per cent 

Elementary school teachers 4.43 per cent 

Engineers and technicians – 4.26 per cent

Public service administrative  professionals – 4.8 per cent 

Directors and chief executives – 4.06 per cent 

Production and operations managers – 3.53 per cent 

Computer scientists – 2.46 per cent 

Senior high school teachers – 4.31 per cent 

Specialist managers  2.81 per cent 

Business professionals – 3.42 per cent 

Architects and civil engineers – 2.8 per cent 

College and university teachers – 2.65 per cent

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