College Grads Have Upper Hand in Diabetes Prevention

Holding a college degree is not only associated with a better chance at landing a job. Graduates also benefit more from exercise to prevent and manage diabetes than other populations, new research suggests.

Holding a college degree is not only associated with a better chance at landing a job. College graduates also benefit more from exercise to prevent and manage diabetes than other populations, new research suggests.

In fact, physically active adults with college degrees are 6% less likely to have pre-diabetic symptoms or elevated levels of blood glucose than inactive adults with college degrees, researchers found. For those without a college degree, physical activity was associated with only a 1% decreased risk of having pre-diabetic symptoms.

The researchers also showed that the probability of having diabetes (as opposed to pre-diabetic symptoms) was greatest among inactive individuals without a college degree. For active and inactive college graduates, the risk was 2.5% and 4.4%, respectively, and for active and inactive individuals without a college degree, the risk was 5% and 7.2%, respectively.

The University of Kansas (KU) study authors, who controlled for diet, body mass index, and social factors, suggest that the link they found between health benefits and college education may lead to increased inequality.

“This is real, and if we continue down this road, we’re going to be helping the college educated more than we’re helping the less educated,” stated Kyle Chapman, a KU doctoral candidate in sociology, in a press release. “The less educated are the people who actually need it more.”

Chapman hopes the study results spark new ways of preventing and managing diabetes among less-educated individuals.

Those with college degrees may also be more likely to have access or exposure to healthier living behaviors and outlets like gyms, the researchers noted.

The data for this study came from National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys between 2007 and 2012.