Background: Diabetics are known to be at increased risk for impaired cognitive function (ICF). Some studies have suggested this risk may be reduced through physical activity. We examined associations among age, obesity, leisure time physical activity (LPA), and ICF in a large sample of U.S. diabetics.

Methods: A secondary data analysis was conducted using data from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), which collects self-reported data on a variety of health-related constructs (n=32866). A logistic regression was used to investigate the associations between diabetes, obesity, LPA and ICF across three age groups: young adults (YA):18 to 38 year; middle-aged adults (MA):39-59 year; and older adults (OA): 60+ year.

Results: All MAs (OR: 2.18 CI95%: 1.78-2.66) and OAs (OR: 3.62 CI95%: 3.02-4.35) in the total sample were more likely to report experiencing ICF than YAs. Obese YAs and MAs, but not OA, reported a slightly higher rate of ICF compared with non-obese peers within their age groups. Diabetes was strongly associated with ICF among YAs (OR: 3.25 CI95%:2.10- 5.01), MAs (OR: 3.57 CI95%:2.77- 4.61), and OAs (OR: 1.67 CI95%:1.41- 1.99). However, among diabetics, individuals who met weekly PA goals (guidelines from Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion) reported significantly lower rates of ICF, in all age groups: Among diabetic YAs 1.71% (CI95%: 0.16 -3.26%) of goal achievers reported ICF compared to 9.79% (CI95%: 5.84-13.73%) in inactive diabetic peers*. Among MAs it was 5.32% (CI95%: 3.11-7.53%) compared to 14.58% (CI95%: 11.64-17.52%)*; and among OAs it was 5.57% (CI95%: 3.78-7.37%) compared to 12.04% (CI95%: 10.33-13.75%)*. *: p<p=0.001.

Conclusion: These findings support the hypothesis that both aging and diabetes increase risk of ICF. Obese YAs and MAs had slightly higher rates of ICF. Among diabetic individuals in all age groups, meeting PA guidelines was associated with significantly lower rates of ICF.


Z. Fu: None. M. Komelski: None. A. Kumar: None.

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