Purpose: The psychosocial determinants of prediabetes are poorly understood. The aims of our study were (1) to analyse the association between perceived social support in young adulthood and fasting glucose levels and prediabetes in mid-adulthood in a cohort of healthy Finns, (2) to explore whether body mass index (BMI), inflammation or depression mediate this relationship, (3) and to examine the association between social support trajectory groups and fasting glucose.
Method: A prospective design was used with an analytic sample of 1250 participants aged 3-18 years at baseline (1980) and aged 12-39 years when social support was measured. Fasting glucose and prediabetes were assessed 32 years after baseline. Linear and logistic regression was used to examine the association between social support and the outcome measures. A bootstrapping technique was used to examine mediation effects.
Results: Social support was associated with future glucose levels in women after adjusting for childhood socioeconomic status (SES) and youth depression (β = -0.136, p = 0.001) and also predicted prediabetes in women after adjusting for childhood SES (β = 1.31, 95 % CI 1.02 to 1.69, p = 0.031). Both associations were attenuated after adjusting for BMI in mid-adulthood. BMI was found to mediate the relationship between social support and prediabetes in women (β for indirect effect β = 0.09, SE = 0.03, CI = 0.03 to 0.16).
Conclusion: Low perceived social support in young adulthood is associated with high fasting glucose and prediabetes in mid-adulthood in women but not men. The association between social support and prediabetes in women can be partly explained by BMI.
Keywords: Fasting glucose; Prediabetes; Prospective study; Social support; Type 2 diabetes.