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Environ Health. 2017 Jul 12;16(1):73. doi: 10.1186/s12940-017-0284-7.

The effect of ambient temperature on type-2-diabetes: case-crossover analysis of 4+ million GP consultations across England.

Author information

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK.
Department of Social & Environmental Health Research, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, 15-17 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9SH, UK.
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK.
Met Office, Exeter, UK.
TPP, Horsforth, Leeds, UK.
University of Exeter Medical School, Truro, UK.



Given the double jeopardy of global increases in rates of obesity and climate change, it is increasingly important to recognise the dangers posed to diabetic patients during periods of extreme weather. We aimed to characterise the associations between ambient temperature and general medical practitioner consultations made by a cohort of type-2 diabetic patients. Evidence on the effects of temperature variation in the primary care setting is currently limited.


Case-crossover analysis of 4,474,943 consultations in England during 2012-2014, linked to localised temperature at place of residence for each patient. Conditional logistic regression was used to assess associations between each temperature-related consultation and control days matched on day-of-week.


There was an increased odds of seeking medical consultation associated with high temperatures: Odds ratio (OR) = 1.097 (95% confidence interval = 1.041, 1.156) per 1 °C increase above 22 °C. Odds during low temperatures below 0 °C were also significantly raised: OR = 1.024 (1.019, 1.030). Heat-related consultations were particularly high among diabetics with cardiovascular comorbidities: OR = 1.171 (1.031, 1.331), but there was no heightened risk with renal failure or neuropathy comorbidities. Surprisingly, lower odds of heat-related consultation were associated with the use of diuretics, anticholinergics, antipsychotics or antidepressants compared to non-use, especially among those with cardiovascular comorbidities, although differences were not statistically significant.


Type-2 diabetic patients are at increased odds of medical consultation during days of temperature extremes, especially during hot weather. The common assumption that certain medication use heightens the risk of heat illness was not borne-out by our study on diabetics in a primary care setting and such advice may need to be reconsidered in heat protection plans.


Climate change; Diabetes mellitus; Primary care; Weather

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