American Diabetes Association
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Quantifying the relationship between physical activity energy expenditure and incident Type 2 Diabetes: a prospective cohort study of device-measured activity in 90,096 adults

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posted on 2023-01-24, 21:57 authored by Tessa Strain, Paddy C. Dempsey, Katrien Wijndaele, Stephen J. Sharp, Nicola Kerrison, Tomas Gonzales, Chunxiao Li, Eleanor Wheeler, Claudia Langenberg, Søren Brage, Nick Wareham



To investigate the association between accelerometer-derived physical activity energy expenditure (PAEE) and incident type 2 diabetes (T2D) in a cohort of middle-aged adults and within subgroups.

Research Design and Methods

Data were from 90,096 UK Biobank participants without prevalent diabetes (mean age 62 years, 57% women) who wore a wrist accelerometer for 7 days. PAEE was derived from wrist acceleration using a population-specific method validated against doubly-labelled water. Logistic regressions were used to assess associations between PAEE, its underlying intensity, and incident T2D, ascertained using hospital episode and mortality data up to November 2020. Models were progressively adjusted for demographic, lifestyle factors, and body mass index (BMI). 


The association between PAEE and T2D was approximately linear (n=2018 events). We observed 19% (95% confidence interval 17-21%) lower odds of T2D per 5 in PAEE without adjustment for BMI, and 11% (9-13%) with BMI adjustment. The association was stronger in men than women, and weaker in those with obesity and higher genetic susceptibility to obesity. There was no evidence of effect modification by genetic susceptibility to T2D or insulin resistance. For a given level of PAEE, odds of T2D were lower amongst those engaging in more moderate-to-vigorous activity.


There was a strong linear relationship between PAEE and incident T2D. A difference in PAEE equivalent to an additional daily 20-minute brisk walk was associated with 19% lower odds of T2D. The association was broadly similar across population subgroups, supporting physical activity for diabetes prevention in the whole population.  


NW, CLa, EW, NK, CLi, TS, PCD, KW, TG, SJS, and SB are supported by UK Medical Research Council [grant numbers MC_UU_00006/1, MC_UU_00006/4 and MC_UU_12015/3]. NW and SB are supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre in Cambridge (IS-BRC-1215-20014). The NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) is a partnership between Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Cambridge, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. CLi is supported by a Jardine-Cambridge Graduate Scholarship. EW is now an employee of AstraZeneca.


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