Physical inactivity displays a mediator role in the association of diabetes and poverty: A spatiotemporal analysis

  • Lung-Chang Chien | Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, School of Community Health Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV, United States.
  • Xiao Li Department of Biostatistics and Data Science, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Public Health, Houston, TX, United States.
  • Amanda Staudt Systems of Care for Complex Patients, U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, JBSA Fort Sam Houston, TX, United States.


Physical inactivity is one of the risk factors of diabetes. In addition, physical inactivity is attributed to urbanization-related factors, such as poverty, which is also one of the risk factors of diabetes. We hypothesized that physical inactivity is a mediator in the association between diabetes and poverty, and that spatial heterogeneity exists in these relationships. This study adopted a spatiotemporal modelling approach to conduct this mediator analysis. From 2004-2011, data were collected at the county level in 48 contiguous states (with a total of 3,109 counties) from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and American Community Survey. Poverty percentage significantly affected physical inactivity prevalence and diabetes prevalence in two separate models. Using a model with both physical inactivity and poverty percentages as independent variables, we verified that physical inactivity prevalence is a significant mediator. In this model, physical inactivity prevalence resulted in a significant positive association with diabetes prevalence, and the influence of poverty percentage on diabetes prevalence was significantly reduced (P=0.0009). An advanced spatiotemporal analysis revealed that 32.65% of counties having a significant positive association between diabetes prevalence and physical inactivity prevalence also had a significant positive association between physical inactivity prevalence and poverty percentage. Those counties were also likely located in the South and Southeast of USA. In summary, the findings of this study demonstrate the mediating effect of physical inactivity between diabetes and poverty. When implementing diabetes prevention in communities with higher poverty, appropriate strategies to reduce the cost burden of physical activity programmes should be considered.



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Original Articles
Diabetes prevalence, Physical inactivity prevalence, Poverty percentage, Mediator
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How to Cite
Chien, L.-C., Li, X., & Staudt, A. (2017). Physical inactivity displays a mediator role in the association of diabetes and poverty: A spatiotemporal analysis. Geospatial Health, 12(2).