Urban environment as an independent predictor of insulin resistance in a South Asian population

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Background: Developing countries, such as India, are experiencing rapid urbanization, which may have a major impact on the environment: including worsening air and water quality, noise and the problems of waste disposal. We used health data from an ongoing cohort study based in southern India to examine the relationship between the urban environment and homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Methods: We utilized three metrics of urbanization: distance from urban center; population density in the India Census; and satellite-based land cover. Restricted to participants without diabetes (N = 6350); we built logistic regression models adjusted for traditional risk factors to test the association between urban environment and HOMA-IR. Results: In adjusted models, residing within 0-20 km of the urban center was associated with an odds ratio for HOMA-IR of 1.79 (95% CI 1.39, 2.29) for females and 2.30 (95% CI 1.64, 3.22) for males compared to residing in the furthest 61-80 km distance group. Similar statistically significant results were identified using the other metrics. Conclusions: We identified associations between urban environment and HOMA-IR in a cohort of adults. These associations were robust using various metrics of urbanization and adjustment for individual predictors. Our results are of public health concern due to the global movement of large numbers of people from rural to urban areas and the already large burden of diabetes.




Thanikachalam, M., Fuller, C. H., Lane, K. J., Sunderarajan, J., Harivanzan, V., Brugge, D., & Thanikachalam, S. (2019). Urban environment as an independent predictor of insulin resistance in a South Asian population. International Journal of Health Geographics, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12942-019-0169-9

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