Loneliness and type 2 diabetes incidence: Findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)
147 Downloads (Pure)


Aims/hypothesis: Loneliness is associated with all-cause mortality and coronary heart disease. However, the prospective relationship between loneliness and type 2 diabetes onset is unclear. 

Methods: We conducted a longitudinal observational population study with data on 4112 diabetes-free participants (mean age 65.02 ± 9.05) from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Loneliness was assessed in 2004–2005 using the revised University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Loneliness Scale. Incident type 2 diabetes cases were assessed from 2006 to 2017. Associations were modelled using Cox proportional hazards regression, adjusting for potential confounders, which included cardiometabolic comorbidities. 

Results: A total of 264 (6.42%) participants developed type 2 diabetes over the follow-up period. Loneliness was a significant predictor of incident type 2 diabetes (HR 1.46; 95% CI 1.15, 1.84; p = 0.002) independent of age, sex, ethnicity, wealth, smoking status, physical activity, alcohol consumption, BMI, HbA 1c, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Further analyses detected an association between loneliness and type 2 diabetes onset (HR 1.41; 95% CI 1.04, 1.90; p = 0.027), independent of depressive symptoms, living alone and social isolation. Living alone and social isolation were not significantly associated with type 2 diabetes onset. 

Conclusions/interpretation: Loneliness is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. The mechanisms underlying this relationship remain to be elucidated. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2329-2338
Number of pages10
Issue number11
Early online date15 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Loneliness
  • Prospective study
  • Social isolation
  • Type 2 diabetes


Dive into the research topics of 'Loneliness and type 2 diabetes incidence: Findings from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this