Falls, physical limitations, confusion and memory problems in people with type II diabetes, undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes, and the influence of vitamins A, D and E

J Diabetes Complications. Nov-Dec 2015;29(8):1159-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2015.08.005. Epub 2015 Aug 10.


Aims: To examine the association between type II diabetes, prediabetes and undiagnosed diabetes with falls, physical limitations, confusion and memory problems, and to evaluate the effects of vitamins A, D and E levels on the associations.

Methods: Data from 37,973 participants of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey was analyzed.

Results: The participants' mean age was 46±17years, 20% had diabetes of which 17% were unaware of their condition (undiagnosed diabetes), and 21% had prediabetes. Diabetes was significantly associated with falls, difficulties in stooping, crouching, kneeling, completing house chores, getting in and out bed, standing and sitting for long periods, reaching over head, grasping, holding objects, and attending social events. The association between diabetes and confusion or memory problems was stronger for those diagnosed before age 40. Memory problems were reported only by people with diabetes with lower vitamin D levels. Vitamin A and E levels did not modify the association between diabetes and falls or any of the physical functions, confusion or memory problems. Prediabetes was only associated with difficulty standing for long periods.

Conclusions: Diabetes was associated with falls, difficulties in physical functioning and attending social events. Vitamin D levels modified the effects on confusion and memory problems.

Keywords: Confusion; Falls; Memory problems; NHANES; Physical function; Vitamins.

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls*
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Confusion / complications*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delayed Diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Memory Disorders / complications*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Prediabetic State / complications*
  • Prediabetic State / diagnosis
  • United States
  • Vitamin A / blood
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / diagnosis
  • Vitamin E / blood


  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E