The association between air pollution and type 2 diabetes in a large cross-sectional study in Leicester: The CHAMPIONS Study

Gary O'Donovan, Yogini Chudasama, Samuel Grocock, Roland Leigh, Alice M. Dalton, Laura J. Gray, Thomas Yates, Charlotte Edwardson, Sian Hill, Joe Henson, David Webb, Kamlesh Khunti, Melanie J. Davies, Andrew P. Jones, Danielle H. Bodicoat, Alan Wells

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Background: Observational evidence suggests there is an association between air pollution and type 2 diabetes; however, there is high risk of bias.

Objective: To investigate the association between air pollution and type 2 diabetes, while reducing bias due to exposure assessment, outcome assessment, and confounder assessment.

Methods: Data were collected from 10,443 participants in three diabetes screening studies in Leicestershire, UK. Exposure assessment included standard, prevailing estimates of outdoor nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter concentrations in a 1 × 1 km area at the participant's home postcode. Three-year exposure was investigated in the primary analysis and one-year exposure in a sensitivity analysis. Outcome assessment included the oral glucose tolerance test for type 2 diabetes. Confounder assessment included demographic factors (age, sex, ethnicity, smoking, area social deprivation, urban or rural location), lifestyle factors (body mass index and physical activity), and neighbourhood green space.

Results: Nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter concentrations were associated with type 2 diabetes in unadjusted models. There was no statistically significant association between nitrogen dioxide concentration and type 2 diabetes after adjustment for demographic factors (odds: 1.08; 95% CI: 0.91, 1.29). The odds of type 2 diabetes was 1.10 (95% CI: 0.92, 1.32) after further adjustment for lifestyle factors and 0.91 (95% CI: 0.72, 1.16) after yet further adjustment for neighbourhood green space. The associations between particulate matter concentrations and type 2 diabetes were also explained away by demographic factors. There was no evidence of exposure definition bias.

Conclusions: Demographic factors seemed to explain the association between air pollution and type 2 diabetes in this cross-sectional study. High-quality longitudinal studies are needed to improve our understanding of the association.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-47
JournalEnvironment International
Early online date13 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


  • Air pollutants
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Cross-sectional studies

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