A new study found that people who caught COVID-19 have a higher risk of developing diabetes.
The findings, published in the medical journal The Lancet, found that COVID patients were 46% more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes.
The author of the study says that the data shows an impact of long COVID broader than just brain fog and fatigue.
"Now, we know that having long COVID is much, much more than that, it actually involves the heart, the kidneys, and this study, we're talking about diabetes, " said Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, author of the study and Chief of Research at VA Saint Louis Health Care.
Researchers looked at 180,000 COVID-19 patients at the Department of Veterans Affairs. They were observed over the course of a year and compared to millions of patients that did not test positive for COVID-19 during the same time period.
The COVID-19 patients were found to have a significantly higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes within a year.
"We know that the risk is there even in people who had no risk factors at all-- people who are thin, lean, athletic, have no high cholesterol, no obesity, and the risk was evident in them," said Dr. Al-Aly. "It's likely in some people that COVID-19 produced new disease in people who did not have any risk factors. It's also likely that in some people, it may amplify baseline risks. So people who have obesity, or people who had predisposition to have some diabetes but they weren't there yet."
The author of the study estimates that one to three million people could be impacted across the U.S.
This is one study and the Central Coast impact is unclear.
A Central Coast dietician confirmed an increase in gestational diabetes which develops during pregnancy.
"I've definitely seen an impact in my schedule, meaning I'm booked out almost six months right now with a lot of new diabetics," said Ginger Cochran, registered dietitian and nutritionist at Tenet Health Central Coast.
Local health experts are now stressing the importance of healthy eating and breaking bad habits to prevent diabetes altogether.
"I'm seeing a lot of people who have gained 20, 30, 40, 50 pounds whether they're stress eating or just the fact that their office is next to their kitchen," said Cochran.
It's important to note that the study took place before vaccines were widely available in the U.S., so it's unclear if this applies to breakthrough infections.