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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Texas A&M: Study One of First to Explore Regional Factors associated with Diabetes Prevalence at the County Level in Texas

In a new study published in the Population Health Management , Mr. Juha Baek and Mr. Jusung Lee, both doctoral students at the Texas A&M School of Public Health, along with colleagues from the Houston Methodist Research Institute in Houston, analyzed county-level data in Texas to determine how various factors are associated with diabetes prevalence. In this study, the researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the prevalence of diabetes, obesity and physical inactivity, county-level social and environmental factors from the Department of Health and Human Services, and food insecurity from the County Health Rankings program.

The researchers examined demographic/social factors in the county level including age, sex, race/ethnicity as well as rates of unemployment, poverty, insurance coverage, and food insecurity. They also included a variable to indicate whether the county would be considered urban or rural and measured health care resources meant to help manage and treat diabetes such as primary care physicians and nonphysician health care professionals.

Findings support that rurality is strongly associated with diabetes prevalence as rural counties often lack diabetes education programs and other resources. Additionally, rural areas frequently have higher rates of obesity, fewer built environments to encourage and support physical activity and lower numbers of nonphysician health care professionals.

“The better understanding of how county-level characteristics and diabetes prevalence interact provided by this study pave the way for further in-depth research and highlight areas where policy makers can improve the situation in Texas counties facing greater rates of diabetes,” said Mr. Baek.