If the average temperature rises by 1 degree Celsius, sea levels will rise, crop yields will fall and vulnerable species will see their habitat shrink or disappear.And, a new study suggests, the number of American adults suffering from diabetes would rise by more than 100,000 a year. Experts have previously predicted that climate change could fuel the spread of conditions such as malaria and dengue fever, because rising temperatures will broaden the range of disease-spreading mosquitoes. Likewise, as extreme weather becomes more of the norm, so will cholera and other water-borne illnesses.
But diabetes is different. It doesn’t spread like an infectious disease. People develop type 2 diabetes when their extra pounds and sedentary lifestyle make their bodies less sensitive to insulin. That, in turn, causes their blood sugar to rise and can eventually lead to heart disease, nerve damage, kidney problems and other serious health issues.
Researchers thought they might find a link between rising temperatures and diabetes for a completely different reason — the activity of brown fat.