Perceived built environment and type 2 diabetes incidence: Exploring potential mediating pathways through physical and mental health, and behavioural factors in a longitudinal study

Publication Name

Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice


Aims: The evidence on the pathways through which the built environment may influence type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk is limited. This study explored whether behavioural, physical and mental health factors mediate the associations between perceived built environment and T2D. Methods: Longitudinal data on 36,224 participants aged ≥45 years (The Sax Institute's 45 and Up Study) was analysed. Causal mediation analysis that uses the counterfactual approach to decompose the total effect into direct and indirect effects was performed. Results: The results showed that physical activity, recreational walking, and BMI mediated around 6%, 11%, and 30%, respectively, of the association between perceived lack of access to local amenities and T2D incidence. Physical activity (4.8% for day-time crime), recreational walking (2.3% for day-time crime), psychological distress (5.2% for day-time, 3.7% for night-time crime), and BMI (29.6% for day-time crime, 17.4% for night-time crime) also partially mediated the effect of perceived crime. Mediated effects appeared larger at wave 3 than the same wave 2 mediators. Conclusions: The findings demonstrate that physical activity, psychological distress, and BMI mediate the pathways between the built environment and T2D. Policies aimed to bring amenities closer to homes, prevent crime, and address mental health may help reduce T2D risk.

Open Access Status

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Funding Sponsor

National Health and Medical Research Council



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