Prevalence of and Racial Disparities in Risk Factor Control in Older Adults With Diabetes: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study

Diabetes Care. 2015 Jul;38(7):1290-8. doi: 10.2337/dc15-0016. Epub 2015 Apr 7.


Objective: Controversy surrounds appropriate risk factor targets in older adults with diabetes. We evaluated the proportion of older adults with diabetes meeting different targets, focusing on possible differences by race, and assessed whether demographic and clinical characteristics explained disparities.

Research design and methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 5,018 participants aged 67-90 years (1,574 with and 3,444 without diagnosed diabetes) who attended visit 5 of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study (2011-2013). Risk factor targets were defined using both stringent (and less stringent) goals: hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) <7%, <53 mmol/mol (<8%, <64 mmol/mol); LDL cholesterol (LDL-c) <100 mg/dL (<130 mg/dL); and blood pressure (BP) <140/90 mmHg (<150/90 mmHg). We used Poisson regression to obtain prevalence ratios (PRs).

Results: Most older adults with diabetes met stringent (and less stringent) targets: 72% (90%) for HbA1c, 63% (86%) for LDL-c, and 73% (87%) for BP; but only 35% (68%) met all three. A higher proportion of whites than blacks met targets, however defined. Among people treated for risk factors, racial disparities in prevalence of meeting stringent targets persisted even after adjustment: PRs (whites vs. blacks) were 1.03 (95% CI 0.91, 1.17) for HbA1c, 1.21 (1.09, 1.35) for LDL-c, 1.10 (1.00, 1.21) for BP, and 1.28 (0.99, 1.66) for all three. Results were similar but slightly attenuated using less stringent goals. Black women were less likely than white women to meet targets for BP and all three risk factors; this disparity was not observed in men.

Conclusions: Black-white disparities in risk factor control in older adults with diabetes were not fully explained by demographic or clinical characteristics and were greater in women than men. Further study of determinants of these disparities is important.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Atherosclerosis / drug therapy
  • Atherosclerosis / ethnology*
  • Black or African American / ethnology
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cholesterol, LDL / metabolism
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / drug therapy
  • Diabetic Angiopathies / ethnology*
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • United States / epidemiology
  • White People / ethnology


  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A