Diabetes mellitus and incidence of lower body disability among older Mexican Americans

Soham Al Snih, Michielle N. Fisher, Mukaila A. Raji, Kyriakos S. Markides, Glenn V. Ostir, James S. Goodwin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Background. Little is known about the effect of diabetes mellitus on subsequent lower body disability in older Mexican Americans, one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States. The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between diabetes mellitus and incident lower body disability over a 7-year follow-up period. Methods. Ours was a 7-year prospective cohort study of 1835 Mexican-American individuals ≥65 years old, nondisabled at baseline, and residing in five Southwestern states. Measures included self-reported physician diagnosis of diabetes, stroke, heart attack, hip fracture, arthritis, or cancer. Disability measures included activities of daily living (ADLs), mobility tasks, and an 8-foot walk test. Body mass index, depressive symptoms, and vision function were also measured. Results. At 7-year follow-up, 48.7% of diabetic participants nondisabled at baseline developed limitations in one or more measures of lower body function. Cox proportional regression analyses showed that diabetic participants were more likely to report any limitation in lower body ADL function (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.05, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.58-2.67), mobility tasks (HR = 1.69, 95% CI, 1.39-2.04), and 8-foot walk (HR = 1.46, 95% CI, 1.15-1.85) compared with nondiabetic participants, after controlling for relevant factors. Older age and having one or more diabetic complications were significantly associated with increased risk of limitations in any lower body ADL and mobility task at follow-up. Conclusion. Older Mexican Americans with diabetes mellitus are at high risk for development of lower body disability over time. Awareness of disability as a potentially modifiable complication and use of interventions to reduce disability should become health priorities for older Mexican Americans with diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1152-1156
Number of pages5
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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