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This study aimed to examine the relationship of physical activity and/or dietary quality and diabetes prevalence in the general population and within specific age groups. It was a cross-sectional study using 2011–2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Patterns Equivalents data (n = 15,674). Physical activity was measured by Global Physical Activity questionnaire; dietary quality was analyzed using the Healthy Eating Index 2015; diabetes prevalence was determined by reported diagnosis and glycohemoglobin or fasting glucose. Data were analyzed using multiple logistic regression adjusted for demographic variables and weight status. Results revealed that although no statistically significant or non-substantial relationships were observed between dietary quality or physical activity and diabetes prevalence, respondents who did not meet physical activity recommendations regardless of dietary quality had a higher odds of diabetes prevalence than those who met physical activity recommendations and had a higher dietary quality (p < 0.05). In conclusion, meeting physical activity recommendations is an important protective factor for diabetes especially in combination with a higher quality diet. A healthy lifestyle appears to have the greater impact on diabetes prevention in middle-aged men and women.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Furong Xu is in the School of Education.

Alessandra Adami is in the Department of Kinesiology.

Geoffrey W. Greene is in the Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences.



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