Despite continuous therapeutic innovations and management strategies, diabetes remains a major public health concern affecting an estimated 34 million Americans with an ever-increasing prevalence. Of the factors known to influence diabetes risk and development, tobacco use is an established cause of type 2 diabetes and there is a growing consensus that alcohol use contributes to the condition due to its ability to alter insulin sensitivity. Although rates of tobacco use have drastically decreased in recent years, smoking remains a significant risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes as smokers face a 30% to 40% higher chance of developing the condition. Similarly, despite known adverse health effects, the prevalence of alcohol use remains high. These two lifestyle risk factors both heighten the likelihood of developing diabetes and worsen prognosis while making disease management much more challenging.
Making matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic accompanied by heightened anxiety, boredom, and social isolation have been driving increases in both tobacco and alcohol use. According to research from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, the majority of participants had cited increased stress as the primary driver of increased nicotine and tobacco use. Furthermore, the consumption of alcohol has grown exponentially in the context of COVID-19 with a 54% surge in national alcohol sales during the first week of the pandemic and subsequent reports revealing persistent increases in rates of alcohol intake.