The Best and Worst Jobs You Can Have to Prevent Diabetes

Your job can forecast your chance for diabetes. That’s right. In addition to countless other factors, how you choose to pay the bills will influence your health risk. The prevalence of diabetes in the U.S. is now as high as 11.6%, up from 10.6% in 2008. That means 2.5 million more U.S. adults live with the disease today, according to Gallup and Sharecare’s The Face of Diabetes in the United States.

Diabetes diagnoses vary across demographics, occupations, and regions. It’s clear personal choice does influence your risk level, but other swaying factors are out of your control. Although you can’t change some things, you can change your job.

That’s the good news. Employed adults already fair better than unemployed workers in their risk of diabetes. But some jobs are better than others for preventing the disease. These are the jobs known to influence diabetes the most, ranked from worst to best, according to Gallup and Sharecare.

15. Transportation

Male train conductor

Train conductors have one of the highest risks. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Workers with a diabetes diagnosis: 10.3%

There are many risk factors associated with diabetes onset. Chief among them is obesity. Those looking to steer clear of this condition should avoid any job in the transportation industry. Unfortunately, 40.3% of transportation workers surveyed by Gallop and Sharecare were considered obese, causing nearly 10.3% to have a diabetes diagnosis overall.

Next: A job already in massive decline also has a high risk for diabetes.

14. Farming, fishing, or forestry

Farmer struggles in a dried out field

These jobs have one of the highest alcohol consumption rates. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

  • Workers with a diabetes diagnosis: 8.5%

The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the farming, fishing, and forestry industry as the fastest declining and lowest paid occupational groups. It’s also at a greater risk of being diagnosed with diabetes when considering lifestyle habits.

According to Gallup and Sharecare, 8.5% of workers already live with a diabetes diagnosis. But the potential for new onset is greater than average, as this occupation boasts one of the highest alcohol consumption rates overall, which the study labels as enjoying 15 or more drinks per week.

Next: An unfortunate diagnosis for service workers

13. Service

Waitress bringing coffees

Working at a restaurant can lead to poor diets. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

  • Workers with a diabetes diagnosis: 7.7%

Working in service is not for the faint of heart. Whether it be in retail, food service, or some other client-facing profession, these workers deal with America’s most difficult people.

When the goal is to simply make it through the day without losing your cool, sticking to a healthy diet falls low on the priority list. Service workers are some of the worst offenders when it comes to healthy eating — meaning they did not consume five or more servings of produce for four or more days in the past week — and therefore their jobs are historically less likely to ward off a diagnosis of diabetes.

Next: An office job not likely to prevent diabetes

12. Clerical or office

man slumped over his desk at work

It’s difficult to stay healthy when you’re at a desk all day. | iStock.com

  • Workers with a diabetes diagnosis: 7.7%

Gallup and Sharecase analyzed the effect of exercise on diabetes prevalence and categorized those who exercised fewer than 30 minutes a day, three times a week as low. Unfortunately, those who work in clerical or office positions fair the worst out of all occupations included in the study. A sedentary lifestyle can be costly to overall health, which is why this is not a job likely to help adults prevent diabetes.

Next: A serious con for entrepreneurs

11. Business owner

man in apron

Business owners should take precautions to avoid the diabetes risk. | iStock.com/jacoblund

  • Workers with a diabetes diagnosis: 7.5%

Roughly 7.5% of business owners live with a diabetes diagnosis. While their risk level for new onset diabetes is below average, dicey lifestyle choices, such as poor diet, little exercise, and high alcohol consumption, will likely contribute to obesity. Armed with this information, business owners should take extra health precautions to avoid a potential diabetes risk.

Next: A job that’s at risk for more than one health hazard

10. Manufacturing or production

factory worker making parts

Poor lifestyle choices can influence diabetes. | Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

  • Workers with a diabetes diagnosis: 7.5%

Manufacturing and production workers are no strangers to potential workplace dangers. For example, this profession has a higher cancer risk than most. But that’s not the only thing affecting this occupational subset. These workers have a long track record of risky lifestyle choices that often lead to diabetes. More than half (51.1%) have unhealthy diets, and 26.2% admit to frequent smoking — none of which do much to prevent future illness.

Next: See why health care professionals are also at risk for diabetes.

9. Other health care professional

Dentist repairs tooth of his female patient

The health care industry requires demanding schedules. | iStock.com/LuckyBusiness

  • Workers with a diabetes diagnosis: 6.8%

Dentists, nurses, chiropractors, and other health care professionals endure pretty demanding schedules, which don’t always allow for adequate personal care. Gallup and Sharecare rank these workers in the middle of the pack for risk factors that could affect the odds of a diabetes diagnosis. Still, with about 6.8% of workers living with diabetes, the health care industry ranks as one of the worse jobs to prevent diabetes.

Next: A profession that should know better

8. Nurse

nurse with patient

Their difficult schedules can make it hard to find time for exercise. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

  • Workers with a diabetes diagnosis: 6.8%

Expanding on the health care field, there’s not much difference in the health risk data for nurses. They, too, have a 6.8% rate of a diabetes diagnosis and see higher than normal obesity trends when compared to other professions. Add in a demanding schedule that leaves little room for daily exercise, and you can see why nurses are at a greater risk for diabetes than others.

Next: Repair workers need to work on their health.

7. Installation or repair

repairman with stove hood

Despite their bad habits, they fall on the lower end of the risk spectrum. | iStock.com/AndreyPopov

  • Workers with a diabetes diagnosis: 6.2%

According to the survey, installation and repair workers like to smoke and drink. The odds for preventing diabetes are stacked against them, yet they fall in the lower half of occupations that live with diabetes at only 6.2%. Research shows diabetes affects more women than men, so perhaps the fact that this occupation is primarily male dominated has something to do with its lower prevalence.

Next: The fate of our teachers

6. Teacher

professor, teacher

Teachers practice some good health habits. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

  • Workers with a diabetes diagnosis: 6.2%

Those who mold the minds of our youth exhibit lower rates of drinking and smoking and practice some of the best health habits each week. It’s been said that education levels can influence the probability of disease. Luckily, teachers are becoming increasingly more educated, which benefits both their wallets and their health.

Next: Positions of authority

5. Manager, executive, or official

manager holding a smartphone

Their chances of having diabetes are below the national average. | iStock.com/Halfpoint

  • Workers with a diabetes diagnosis: 6%

Those who hold positions of authority have a better chance of preventing diabetes than those who do not. Managers, executives, and officials have a lower rate of diabetes than the national average of all workers (6.9%) at just 6%. Their lifestyle choices raise no other red flags, as well.

Next: The odds are in favor of these workers.

4. Professionals

Scientist looking into a microscope

Higher income helps scientists and mathematicians to have lower rates of diabetes. | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images/Cancer Research UK

  • Workers with a diabetes diagnosis: 5.7%

Much like those in managerial roles, professional workers in the mathematical, science, or behavioral fields are more likely to prevent diabetes throughout their lifetime. A healthier lifestyle and a typically higher income support consistent findings that their risk for incurring diabetes is low.

Next: A conundrum for sales professionals

3. Sales

Saleswoman shaking hands

Salespeople often have a demanding travel schedule. | iStock.com/Rob Daly

  • Workers with a diabetes diagnosis: 5.5%

Road warriors will be the first to tell you that eating healthy while traveling can be difficult. So the fact that sales professionals have some of the worst eating habits of all occupations shouldn’t come as a shock. They’re also less likely to exercise consistently throughout the week, making them more liable for diabetes in the future. Still, only 5.5% of sales workers have a current diabetes diagnoses, so these sly characters must be doing something right to stay healthy.

Next: A job that defies all odds

2. Construction or mining

supervisor checks the interior of a new warehouse

Their eating and smoking habits are likely balanced by the physical labor. | iStock.com/killerbayer

  • Workers with a diabetes diagnosis: 5.5%

Construction and mining workers are a contradictory bunch. The occupation has the highest rate of heavy alcohol consumption at 10.1% and some of the worst eating habits among all jobs. Nearly 1 in 3 people smoke in this field, as well. Yet only 5.5% of workers have diabetes, which is well below the national average.

Next: The best job you can have to prevent diabetes

1. Physician

Doctor with an apple

They know how to stay healthy. | iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

  • Workers with a diabetes diagnosis: 5.1%

It seems physicians practice what they preach. They rank at the bottom or near the bottom for all risk factors analyzed in the study. These workers find particular success sticking to a healthy eating and exercise regimen. Therefore, they have the lowest likelihood of obesity and carry the smallest risk level of new onset diabetes.

Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.

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