Physical activity in U.S. adults with diabetes and at risk for developing diabetes, 2003

Diabetes Care. 2007 Feb;30(2):203-9. doi: 10.2337/dc06-1128.


Objective: Given the risk of obesity and diabetes in the U.S., and clear benefit of exercise in disease prevention and management, this study aimed to determine the prevalence of physical activity among adults with and at risk for diabetes.

Research design and methods: The Medical Expenditure Panel Survey is a nationally representative survey of the U.S. population. In the 2003 survey, 23,283 adults responded when asked about whether they were physically active (moderate or vigorous activity, > or =30 min, three times per week). Information on sociodemographic characteristics and health conditions were self-reported. Additional type 2 diabetes risk factors examined were age > or =45 years, non-Caucasian ethnicity, BMI > or =25 kg/m(2), hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

Results: A total of 39% of adults with diabetes were physically active versus 58% of adults without diabetes. The proportion of active adults without diabetes declined as the number of risk factors increased until dropping to similar rates as people with diabetes. After adjustment for sociodemographic and clinical factors, the strongest correlates of being physically active were income level, limitations in physical function, depression, and severe obesity (BMI > or =40 kg/m(2)). Several traditional predictors of activity (sex, education level, and having received past advice from a health professional to exercise more) were not evident among respondents with diabetes.

Conclusions: The majority of patients with diabetes or at highest risk for developing type 2 diabetes do not engage in regular physical activity, with a rate significantly below national norms. There is a great need for efforts to target interventions to increase physical activity in these individuals.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Risk Factors
  • United States