Residential traffic and incidence of Type 2 diabetes: the German Health Interview and Examination Surveys

Diabet Med. 2014 Oct;31(10):1269-76. doi: 10.1111/dme.12480. Epub 2014 May 30.


Aims: To investigate whether an indicator of overall traffic intensity is related to the risk of Type 2 diabetes in a nationwide cohort.

Methods: The study population comprised 3604 adults aged 18-79 years and without diabetes from the German National Health Interview and Examination Survey (GNHIES98, 1997-1999) who participated again in a follow-up survey (DEGS1, 2008-2011). The association between the participants' reported traffic intensity at their residential address and Type 2 diabetes incidence was examined using logistic regression models.

Results: During a mean of 12.1 years of follow-up, 252 of the participants included in the study developed Type 2 diabetes. Compared with people living in traffic-calmed areas, odds ratios were 1.15 (95% CI 0.80-1.67) for people living on moderately busy side streets, 1.11 (95% CI 0.69-1.80) for people living on considerably busy side streets, 1.41 (95% CI 0.96-2.08) for people living on heavily busy roads, and 1.97 (95% CI 1.07-3.64) for people living on extremely busy roads, after adjusting for age, sex, active and passive smoking, type of heating, education, BMI, waist circumference, sport activity and parental diabetes history.

Conclusions: The twofold higher risk of Type 2 diabetes observed for people exposed to intense traffic in this nationwide cohort extends the limited evidence from previous selected populations. Although the underlying traffic-related components and their biological mechanisms still need to be unravelled, traffic exposure control should be considered in public health strategies to reduce the global burden of diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / chemically induced
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise, Transportation / adverse effects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Health
  • Urban Health*
  • Vehicle Emissions / toxicity*
  • Young Adult


  • Vehicle Emissions