Social participation in clubs and groups has been linked to a lower risk of diabetes.
A study found that socially isolated individuals were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes more often than individuals with larger social networks.
A lack of participation in clubs or other social groups was associated with 60% higher odds of pre-diabetes and 112% higher odds of type 2 diabetes in women compared to those with normal glucose metabolism.
In men, lack of social participation was associated with 42% higher odds of type 2 diabetes, the research carried out in the Netherlands found.
Men living alone was also associated with 94% higher odds of Type 2 diabetes.
Dr Miranda Schram, of Maastricht University, said: "High-risk groups for Type 2 diabetes should broaden their network and should be encouraged to make new friends, as well as become members of a club, such as a volunteer organisation, sports club or discussion group.
"As men living alone seem to be at a higher risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes, they should become recognised as a high-risk group in health care. In addition, social network size and participation in social activities may eventually be used as indicators of diabetes risk."
Lead author Stephanie Brinkhues said: "We are the first to determine the association of a broad range of social network characteristics - such as social support, network size or type of relationships - with different stages of type 2 diabetes.
"Our findings support the idea that resolving social isolation may help prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes."
But they pointed out that the study does not allow for cause and effect, as early changes in glucose metabolism may cause people to feel tired and unwell, which could explain why individuals limit their social participation.
The study, which involved 2,861 participants, is published in the open access journal BMC Public Health.