Article ID: JE20170206
Background: Studies on sex-specific socioeconomic gradients in objectively evaluated diabetes among older adults are scarce.
Methods: We used cross-sectional data of 9,893 adults aged 65 years and older in Aichi Prefecture without long-term care insurance from the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study (JAGES) in 2010 (Response rate: 66.3%). We collected demographic, socioeconomic (income, years of education, and longest occupation) and behavioral information using a mail-in self-reported survey. Blood samples for the objectively evaluated diabetes and self-reported medical history were collected at annual municipal health checkups. Poisson regression analysis stratified by sex with multiple imputations was conducted to calculate prevalence ratio and 95% confidence interval.
Results: A clear income gradient in diabetes prevalence was observed among women, from 11.7% in the lowest income quartile (Q1) to 7.8% in the highest (Q4). Among men, the findings were 17.6% in Q1 to 15.1% in Q4. The prevalence ratios for diabetes with incomes Q1 to Q4 were 1.43 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.07–1.90) for women and 1.16 (95% CI, 0.90–1.50) for men after adjusting for age and other socioeconomic factors. Even after adjusting for marital status, body mass index, other metabolic risk factors, and lifestyle factors, the income-based gradient remained among women. Education and occupation were not significantly associated with diabetes in the study population.
Conclusions: Only women showed an income-based gradient in diabetes. Monitoring income gradient in diabetes is important in public health actions, even in older populations. Future longitudinal and intervention studies should evaluate the causal link of income to diabetes onset, determine the mechanisms of the potential sex differences in the income/diabetes association, and identify ways to mitigate the income-based inequality.