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, 17 (3), 289-95

A Low Socio-Economic Status Is an Additional Risk Factor for Glucose Intolerance in High Risk Hong Kong Chinese

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A Low Socio-Economic Status Is an Additional Risk Factor for Glucose Intolerance in High Risk Hong Kong Chinese

G T Ko et al. Eur J Epidemiol.

Abstract

To examine whether a low socio-economic status (SES) is an additional risk factor for glucose intolerance in Hong Kong Chinese with known risk factors for glucose intolerance, a total of 2847 Chinese subjects (473 men and 2374 women) were recruited from the community for assessment. They had known risk factors for glucose intolerance including a previous history of gestational diabetes, positive family history of diabetes in first degree relatives and equivocal fasting plasma glucose concentrations between 7 and 8 mmol/l or random plasma glucose concentrations between 8 and 11 mmol/l. The 2847 subjects were classified according to their education levels and occupations: education group 1 = high school or university, group 2 = middle school, group 3 = illiterate or up to elementary school; occupational group 1 = professional or managerial, group 2 = non-manual, group 3 = manual, group 4 = unskilled, group 5 = housewife or unemployed. Different socio-economic groups were well represented in this selected population. The distribution of educational groups in this study was similar to that recorded in the 1991 Hong Kong Census. When analysed according to education levels and after adjustment for age, women in the lowest social class had the highest prevalence of diabetes, body mass index, blood pressure and plasma glucose concentrations. Men with the lowest education level had the highest prevalence of diabetes after age adjustment. The age-adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence intervals) of having diabetes was 2.3 (1.3. 4.3) in female subjects and 2.5 (1.2, 5.4) in male subjects with the lowest SES compared to subjects with the highest SES. When categorised according to occupation and after adjustment for age, women in the lowest social class had the highest prevalence of diabetes and glycaemic indexes. The age-adjusted odds ratio of having diabetes was 4.5 (1.9, 10.9) in female subjects with the lowest SES compared to those with the highest SES. The corresponding age-adjusted odds ratio in male subjects was 1.9 (0.9, 3.9) but this was not statistically significant. In conclusion, a lower socio-economic class, categorised either by occupational or educational level, was an additional risk factor for diabetes in Hong Kong Chinese who had known risk factors for glucose intolerance. These subjects should have increased priority for health education and regular diabetes screening. Our findings further emphasise the complex relationships between societal affluence, personal income and educational level.

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