Experts believe an extra 200 million people will have diabetes by 2040, due to the rise in global temperatures.
The research, published online in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, shows Type 2 diabetes rates are increasing massively, and the 415 million cases in 2015 is likely to rise to 642 million by 2040.
In the human body, the function of brown adipose tissue is to transfer energy from food into heat and previous studies have shown that exposure to cold stimulates BAT, thus leading to modest weight loss and improved insulin action and sensitivity – making a person less likely to develop diabetes.
A team of Dutch researchers from the Leiden University Medical Center led by Professor Patrick Rensen, reckon global increases in temperature are contributing to the current type 2 diabetes growth by slowing down our metabolism.
The researchers compared diabetes statistics for the years from 1996 to 2009 with annual temperature data.
They found that on average, the age-adjusted diabetes rate increased by 0.314 per 1,000 for every 1C increase in temperature.
Similarly, the worldwide prevalence of glucose intolerance increased by 0.17 per 1C rise in temperature – which is massive on a global scale.
Using their findings, the authors calculated that a 1C rise in environmental temperature could account for more than 100,000 new diabetes cases per year in the US alone.
This was an observational study, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect, but the authors analysed longitudinal state-level data for each state separately before pooling the results.
The authors acknowledged that once they adjusted the results to take into account obesity prevalence, they only slightly reduced the association between outdoor temperature and diabetes.
The authors added: “These findings emphasise the importance of future research into the effects of environmental temperature on glucose metabolism and the onset of diabetes, especially in view of the global rise in temperatures with a new record set for the warmest winter in the USA last year.”