Review

European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 5-12

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Does physical activity modify the risk of obesity for type 2 diabetes: a review of epidemiological data

  • Li QinAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen
  • , Mirjam J. KnolAffiliated withJulius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht
  • , Eva CorpeleijnAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen
  • , Ronald P. StolkAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen Email author 

Abstract

Obesity and physical inactivity are both risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Since they are strongly associated, it has been suggested that they might interact. In this study, we summarized the evidence on this interaction by conducting a systematic review. Two types of interaction have been discerned, statistical and biological interaction, which could give different results. Therefore, we calculated both types of interaction for the studies in our review. Cohort studies, published between 1999 and 2008, that investigated the effects of obesity and physical activity on the risk of type 2 diabetes were included. We calculated both biological and statistical interaction in these studies. Eight studies were included of which five were suitable to calculate interaction. All studies showed positive biological interaction, meaning that the joint effect was more than the sum of the individual effects. However, there was inconsistent statistical interaction; in some studies the joint effect was more than the product of the individual effects, in other studies it was less. The results show that obesity and physical inactivity interact on an additive scale. This means that prevention of either obesity or physical inactivity, not only reduces the risk of diabetes by taking away the independent effect of this factor, but also by preventing the cases that were caused by the interaction between both factors. Furthermore, this review clearly showed that results can differ depending on what method is used to assess interaction.

Keywords

Type 2 diabetes Obesity Physical activity Biological interaction Statistical interaction