Diabetes and climate change: current evidence and implications for people with diabetes, clinicians and policy stakeholders

Diabetologia. 2023 Jun;66(6):1003-1015. doi: 10.1007/s00125-023-05901-y. Epub 2023 Mar 25.


Climate change will be a major challenge for the world's health systems in the coming decades. Elevated temperatures and increasing frequencies of heat waves, wildfires, heavy precipitation and other weather extremes can affect health in many ways, especially if chronic diseases are already present. Impaired responses to heat stress, including compromised vasodilation and sweating, diabetes-related comorbidities, insulin resistance and chronic low-grade inflammation make people with diabetes particularly vulnerable to environmental risk factors, such as extreme weather events and air pollution. Additionally, multiple pathogens show an increased rate of transmission under conditions of climate change and people with diabetes have an altered immune system, which increases the risk for a worse course of infectious diseases. In this review, we summarise recent studies on the impact of climate-change-associated risk for people with diabetes and discuss which individuals may be specifically prone to these risk conditions due to their clinical features. Knowledge of such high-risk groups will help to develop and implement tailored prevention and management strategies to mitigate the detrimental effect of climate change on the health of people with diabetes.

Keywords: Air pollution; Climate change; Complications; Heat; Physico-chemical environment; Planetary health; Review; Virus.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Climate Change
  • Communicable Diseases*
  • Diabetes Mellitus*
  • Humans
  • Policy
  • Weather