The Geography of Diabetes by Census Tract in a Large Sample of Insured Adults in King County, Washington, 2005–2006
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The Geography of Diabetes by Census Tract in a Large Sample of Insured Adults in King County, Washington, 2005–2006

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  • Alternative Title:
    Prev Chronic Dis
  • Description:

    Identifying areas of high diabetes prevalence can have an impact on public health prevention and intervention programs. Local health practitioners and public health agencies lack small-area data on obesity and diabetes.


    Clinical data from the Group Health Cooperative health care system were used to estimate diabetes prevalence among 59,767 adults by census tract. Area-based measures of socioeconomic status and the Modified Retail Food Environment Index were obtained at the census-tract level in King County, Washington. Spatial analyses and regression models were used to assess the relationship between census tract–level diabetes and area-based socioeconomic status and food environment variables. The mediating effect of obesity on the geographic distribution of diabetes was also examined.


    In this population of insured adults, diabetes was concentrated in south and southeast King County, with smoothed diabetes prevalence ranging from 6.9% to 21.2%. In spatial regression models, home value and college education were more strongly associated with diabetes than was household income. For each 50% increase in median home value, diabetes prevalence was 1.2 percentage points lower. The Modified Retail Food Environment Index was not related to diabetes at the census-tract level. The observed associations between area-based socioeconomic status and diabetes were largely mediated by obesity (home value, 58%; education, 47%).


    The observed geographic disparities in diabetes among insured adults by census tract point to the importance of area socioeconomic status. Small-area studies can help health professionals design community-based programs for diabetes prevention and control.

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