OBJECTIVE: The study aims to identify the mediating factors of the relationship between education achievement and incident type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in older adults.
DESIGN: Population-based cohort study.
SETTING: Participants were recruited from the German federal state of Saarland.
PARTICIPANTS: Participants were excluded if they had prevalent T2DM or missing data on prevalent T2DM, missing or zero follow-up time for incident T2DM or were under 50 years of age. The total sample consisted of 7462 individuals aged 50-75 years (42.8% men, mean age 61.7 years) at baseline (2000-02). The median follow-up time was 8.0 years.
METHODS: Cox proportional hazards regression was initially used to determine the direct association between education achievement and incident T2DM. Using the Baron and Kenny approach, we then investigated the associations between education achievement and incident T2DM with the potential mediators. The contribution of each of the putative mediating variables was then calculated.
RESULTS: A clear socioeconomic gradient was observed with regard to T2DM incidence with the lowest educated individuals at a greater risk of developing the disease during the follow-up period: HR (95% CI) high education: 0.52 (0.34 to 0.80); medium education: 0.80 (0.66 to 0.96). Seven of the variables considered explained a proportion of the education-T2DM relationship (body mass index, alcohol consumption, hypertension, fasting triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, physical activity and smoking status), where the contribution of the variables ranged from 1.0% to 17.7%. Overall, the mediators explained 31.7% of the relationship.
CONCLUSION: By identifying the possible mediating factors of the relationship between education achievement and incident T2DM in older adults, the results of this study can be used to assist with the development of public health strategies that aim to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in T2DM.
- Journal Article