Exposure to pesticides and the prevalence of diabetes in a rural population in Korea

Neurotoxicology. 2019 Jan;70:12-18. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2018.10.007. Epub 2018 Oct 24.


Background: Among the adverse health effects of exposure to pesticides, an association with diabetes has been reported. However, there is a lack of epidemiologic studies on the health effects of exposure to pesticides, particularly investigating the association between occupational pesticide exposure and diabetes prevalence.

Purpose: The present study examined the association between pesticide exposure and prevalence of diabetes in a rural population in Korea.

Methods: This cross-sectional study used data from the Korea Farmers Cohort study, and included 2559 participants in the baseline survey between November 2005 and January 2008. We performed a clinical examination including blood sampling and assessed data on diabetes diagnosis, demographics, and pesticide exposure. Logistic regression was performed to evaluate the association between pesticide exposure and diabetes prevalence, adjusting for age, sex, monthly income, and marital status. In addition, a stratified analysis by body mass index (BMI) was conducted, with two categories: normal weight (<25 kg/m2) and overweight or obese (≥25 kg/m2).

Results: At baseline, the prevalence of diabetes was 9.30%. Pesticide exposure was associated with the risk of diabetes after adjustment for covariates. In the analysis stratified by BMI, all the variables related to pesticide exposure were associated with prevalence of diabetes in the overweight or obese group, whereas no significant association was found in the normal weight group.

Conclusion: Exposure to pesticides was associated with diabetes, and this association was stronger in overweight or obese individuals than in normal weight individuals. Further longitudinal studies that consider information on BMI are necessary.

Keywords: Cross-sectional study; Diabetes; Korean adults; Overweight; Pesticide exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Agriculture / trends*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / chemically induced*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Overweight / diagnosis
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Pesticides / adverse effects*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Rural Population / trends*


  • Pesticides