Physical Activity and NIDDM in African-Americans: The Pitt County Study

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

Studies directly examining the association between physical activity and NIDDM in African-Americans are rare. Consequently, the strength of this association in this ethnic minority group remains unclear. The current study broadly characterizes the types of physical activity engaged in by a community sample of working-class African-Americans and then quantifies the association between physical activity and NIDDM risk in this population.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS

During the 1993 reexamination of participants in the Pitt County Study in North Carolina, data on NIDDM history, current use of insulin or oral hypoglycemic drugs, and [approximately] 12-h overnight fasting blood glucose (FBG) were obtained from 598 women and 318 men, ages 30-55 years. The presence of NIDDM was determined by current insulin or medication use and FBG >or= to 140 mg/dl. Study participants were assigned to one of four categories of physical activity: strenuous, moderate, low, or inactive.

RESULTS

The weighted prevalence of NIDDM in the sample was 7.1%. After adjustment was made for age, sex, education, BMI, and waist-to-hip ratio, NIDDM risk for moderately active subjects was one-third that for the physically inactive subjects (odds ratio [OR], 0.35; 95% CI, 0.12-0.98). The ORs for low (OR, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.20-1.29) and strenuous (OR, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.26-1.63) activity also tended to be lower. A summary OR that contrasted any activity versus no activity was 0.51 (95% CI, 0.23-1.13).

CONCLUSIONS

Moderate physical activity was strongly associated with reduced risk for NIDDM in this sample. While replication of these findings is needed, public health interventions designed to increase moderate (leisure-time) physical activity in black adults should be strongly encouraged.

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