Different domains of self-reported physical activity and risk of type 2 diabetes in a population-based Swedish cohort: the Malmö diet and Cancer study

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BACKGROUND: While a dose-response relationship between physical activity and risk of diabetes has been demonstrated, few studies have assessed the relative importance of different measures of physical activity on diabetes risk. The aim was to examine the association between different self-reported measures of physical activity and risk of type 2 diabetes in a prospective cohort study. METHODS: Out of 26,615 adults (45-74 years, 60% women) in the population-based Swedish Malmö Diet and Cancer Study cohort, 3791 type 2 diabetes cases were identified from registers during 17 years of follow-up. Leisure-time (17 activities), occupational and domestic physical activity were assessed through a questionnaire, and these and total physical activity were investigated in relation to type 2 diabetes risk. RESULTS: All physical activity measures showed weak to modest associations with type 2 diabetes risk. The strongest association was found in the lower end of leisure-time physical activity in dose-response analysis at levels approximately below 22 MET-hrs/week (300 min/week) representing around 40% of the population. Compared with the lowest quintile, the moderate leisure-time physical activity category had a 28% (95% CI: 0.71, 0.87) decreased risk of type 2 diabetes. Total physical activity showed a similar, but weaker, association with diabetes risk as to that of leisure-time physical activity. Domestic physical activity was positively and linearly related to diabetes risk, HR = 1.11 (95% CI: 0.99, 1.25) comparing highest to lowest quintile. There was no association between occupational physical activity and diabetes risk. CONCLUSION: A curvilinear association was observed between leisure-time physical activity and risk of diabetes. Beyond a threshold level of approximately 22 MET-hrs/week or 300 min/week, no additional risk reduction was observed with increase in physical activity.


External organisations
  • University of Bonn
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Endocrinology and Diabetes
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • Diabetes, Domains, Physical activity
Original languageEnglish
Article number261
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb 21
Publication categoryResearch