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Increased leisure-time physical activity associated with lower onset of diabetes in 44 828 adults with impaired fasting glucose: a population-based prospective cohort study

Abstract

Aims To evaluate the effects of habitual leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) on incident type 2 diabetes in a prospective cohort of Chinese adults with impaired fasting glucose (IFG).

Methods 44 828 Chinese adults aged 20–80 years with newly detected IFG but free from cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease were recruited and followed up from 1996 to 2014. Incident type 2 diabetes was identified by fasting plasma glucose ≥7 mmol/L. The participants were classified into four categories based on their self-reported weekly LTPA: inactive, low, moderate, or high. Hazard ratios (HRs) and population attributable fractions (PAFs) were estimated with adjustment for established diabetic risk factor.

Results After 214 148 person-years of follow-up, we observed an inverse dose–response relationship between LTPA and diabetes risk. Compared with inactive participants, diabetes risk in individuals reporting low, moderate and high volume LTPA were reduced by 12% (HR 0.88, 95% CI 0.80 to 0.99; P=0.015), 20% (HR 0.80, 95% CI 0.71 to 0.90; P<0.001), and 25% (HR 0.75, 95% CI 0.67 to 0.83; P<0.001), respectively. At least 19.2% (PAF 19.2%, 95% CI 5.9% to 30.6%) of incident diabetes cases could be avoided if the inactive participants had engaged in WHO recommendation levels of LTPA. This would correspond to a potential reduction of at least 7 million diabetic patients in the Greater China area.

Conclusions Our results show higher levels of LTPA are associated with a lower risk of diabetes in IFG subjects. These data emphasise the urgent need for promoting physical activity as a preventive strategy against diabetes to offset the impact of population ageing and the growing obesity epidemic.

  • Diabetes
  • Physical Activity
  • Cohort Study
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