The contribution of physical inactivity and socioeconomic factors to type 2 diabetes in Nepal: A structural equation modelling analysis

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Background and aim: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is emerging as a significant public health challenge in Nepal. Behavioural, social and economic changes are likely to play a part in the rise of this chronic disease, as they are in many developing countries. A better understanding of the relationship between physical activity (PA), socioeconomic factors and T2DM can inform the design of prevention programs. This study aimed to identify the path relationships between PA, socioeconomic position, anthropometric and metabolic variables and T2DM. Methods and results: This study analysed data from 1977 Nepalese adults aged 40–69 years from the cross-sectional WHO STEPS survey undertaken in 2013. The latent variable “PA” was created using the information on domains of PA while the latent variable “socioeconomic position” was created using the variables education, occupation and ethnicity. Participants’ fasting blood glucose was used to determine their diabetes status. Structural equation modelling was conducted, and correlations and adjusted regression coefficients are reported. Individuals with higher education, in paid employment and from advantaged ethnic groups were more likely to have T2DM. Waist circumference, triglycerides and hypertension were found to have a statistically significant positive direct effect on T2DM. PA had indirect effects on T2DM, mediated by waist circumference. The indirect effects of socioeconomic position on T2DM were mediated by body mass index, waist circumference, triglycerides and total cholesterol. Conclusion: Among Nepalese adults, higher socioeconomic position had a significant direct effect on T2DM, while both PA and higher socioeconomic position had significant indirect effects. Policies and programs to address T2DM in Nepal should address the factors contributing to unhealthy weight status, particularly among those of higher socioeconomic status.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 13 Jun 2020


  • Nepal
  • Physical activity
  • Socioeconomic position
  • STEPS survey
  • Structural equation modelling
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

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