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Climate change and diabetes: averting two linked catastrophes


To the Editor: Zimmet draws attention to the looming catastrophe of diabetes.1 However, there is a concomitant health catastrophe — climate change, “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century”.2

We believe that it is not useful to argue whether diabetes or climate change is a greater threat to health. Rather, diabetes and climate change are predictable manifestations of contemporary human ecosystems:

The conjoined processes of industrialisation, urbanisation, modernisation and the rise of consumer culture have influenced both . . . food energy intake and . . . physical activity . . . From this perspective the problem is primarily one of a systemic change in our way of living, rather than a consequence of defective individual behaviour.3

Obesity, with its pathological consequences, including diabetes, and climate change have “similar environmental aetiology, based in modern human lifestyles and their driving economic forces”.4

Our lifestyles…