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Am J Epidemiol. 2009 Sep 1;170(5):632-9. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwp181. Epub 2009 Jul 21.

Physical activity and incident diabetes in American Indians: the Strong Heart Study.

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Cardiovascular Health Research Unit, University of Washington, 1730 Minor Avenue, Suite 1360, Seattle, WA 98101, USA.


The authors examined the association between total physical activity (leisure-time plus occupational) and incident diabetes among 1,651 American Indians who participated in the Strong Heart Study, a longitudinal study of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors among 13 American Indian communities in 4 states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Arizona). Discrete Cox models were used to examine the association between physical activity level (in tertiles), compared with no physical activity, and incident diabetes, after adjustment for potential confounders. During 10 years of follow-up (f1989-1999), 454 incident cases of diabetes were identified. Compared with participants who reported no physical activity, those who reported any physical activity had a lower risk of diabetes: Odds ratios were 0.67 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.46, 0.99), 0.67 (95% CI: 0.45, 0.99), and 0.67 (95% CI: 0.45, 0.99) for increasing tertile of physical activity, after adjustment for age, sex, study site, education, smoking, alcohol use, and family history of diabetes. Further adjustment for body mass index and other potential mediators attenuated the risk estimates. These data suggest that physical activity is associated with a lower risk of incident diabetes in American Indians. This study identifies physical activity as an important determinant of diabetes among American Indians and suggests the need for physical activity outreach programs that target inactive American Indians.

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