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Incidence of Type 2 diabetes among occupational classes in Sweden: a 35-year follow-up cohort study in middle-aged men

Journal article
Authors Christina Hedén Ståhl
Masuma Novak
Per-Olof Hansson
Georg Lappas
Lars Wilhelmsen
Annika Rosengren
Published in Diabetic Medicine
Volume 31
Issue 6
Pages 674-680
ISSN 0742-3071
Publication year 2014
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine
Pages 674-680
Language en
Subject categories Endocrinology and Diabetes


AimsTo assess if low occupational class was an independent predictor of Type 2 diabetes in men in Sweden over a 35-year follow-up, after adjustment for both conventional risk factors and psychological stress. MethodsA random population-based sample of 6874 men aged 47-56 years without a history of diabetes was divided into five occupational classes and the men were followed from 1970 to 2008. Diabetes cases were identified through the Swedish inpatient and death registers. Subdistribution hazard ratios (SHRs) and 95% CIs from competing risk regressions, cumulative incidence and conditional probabilities were calculated, after accounting for the risk of death attributed to other causes. ResultsA total of 907 (13%) men with diabetes were identified over 35 years with a median follow-up of 27.9 years. The cumulative incidence of diabetes, when taking into account death as a competing event, was 11% in high officials, 12% in intermediate non-manual employees, 14% in assistant non-manual employees, 14% in skilled workers, and 16% in unskilled and semi-skilled workers. Men with unskilled and semi-skilled manual occupations had a significantly higher risk of diabetes than high officials (reference) after adjustment for age, BMI, hypertension, smoking and physical activity (SHR 1.39, 95% CI 1.08-1.78). Additional adjustment for self-reported psychological stress did not attenuate the results. ConclusionsA low occupational class suggests a greater risk of Type 2 diabetes, independently of conventional risk factors and psychological stress. Studies with a follow-up of 15 years have shown that Type 2 diabetes disproportionately affects people with a lower socio-economic status. With the world's aging population, it is important to determine if risk factors persist into older age groups. In contrast to many other studies, we adjusted the analysis, not only for conventional risk factors, but also for psychological stress and competing risk of death. The present study shows that low occupational class at mid-life remains an independent predictor for Type 2 diabetes after a 35-year follow-up.

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