How poor air quality may be linked to a higher risk of type 2 diabetes

Among those who reside in communities with poor air quality, a higher risk of type 2 diabetes is evident, even if physical activities are initiated outdoors, a new study suggests.

The study appeared in Environmental Health Perspectives.


“Type 2 diabetes is a leading contributor to the global burden of morbidity and mortality. Ozone (O3) exposure has previously been linked to diabetes,” the study’s authors mentioned in their findings.

“We studied the impact of O3 exposure on incident diabetes risk in elderly Mexican Americans and investigated whether outdoor physical activity modifies the association.”

As many as 1,090 Mexican American participants were included, as part of the Sacramento Area Latino Study on Aging. It was conducted between 1998 and 2007.

“Ambient O3 exposure levels were modeled with a land-use regression built with saturation monitoring data collected at 49 sites across the Sacramento metropolitan area,” according to the findings.

“Using Cox proportional hazard models, we estimated the risk of developing incident diabetes based on average O3 exposure modeled for 5-y prior to incident diabetes diagnosis or last follow-up. Further, we estimated outdoor leisure-time physical activity at baseline and investigated whether higher vs. lower levels modified the association between O3 exposure and diabetes.”

Researchers found that ambient O3 exposure contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes. Increased physical activity did not lead to lower incidences of diabetes.

“Policies and strategies are needed to reduce O3 exposure to guarantee that the health benefits of physical activity are not diminished by higher levels of O3 pollution in susceptible populations such as older Hispanics,” researchers concluded in their findings.