Data_Sheet_1_The Impact of Education and Age on Metabolic Disorders.PDF

Metabolic disorders, such as obesity, elevated blood pressure, dyslipidemias, insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, and hyperuricemia have all been identified as risk factors for an epidemic of important and widespread chronic-degenerative diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, that constitute some of the world's most important public health challenges. Their increasing prevalence can be associated with an aging population and to lifestyles within an obesogenic environment. Taking educational level as a proxy for lifestyle, and using both logistic and linear regressions, we study the relation between a wide set of metabolic biomarkers, and educational level, body mass index (BMI), age, and sex as correlates, in a population of 1,073 students, academic and non-academic staff at Mexico's largest university (UNAM). Controlling for BMI and sex, we consider educational level and age as complementary measures—degree and duration—of exposure to metabolic insults. Analyzing the role of education across a wide spectrum of educational levels (from primary school to doctoral degree), we show that higher education correlates to significantly better metabolic health when compared to lower levels, and is associated with significantly less risk for waist circumference, systolic blood pressure, glucose, glycosylated hemoglobin, triglycerides, high density lipoprotein and metabolic syndrome (all p < 0.05); but not for diastolic blood pressure, basal insulin, uric acid, low density lipoprotein, and total cholesterol. We classify each biomarker, and corresponding metabolic disorder, by its associated set of statistically significant correlates. Differences among the sets of significant correlates indicate various aetiologies and the need for targeted population-specific interventions. Thus, variables strongly linked to educational level are candidates for lifestyle change interventions. Hence, public policy efforts should be focused on those metabolic biomarkers strongly linked to education, while adopting a different approach for those biomarkers not linked as they may be poor targets for educational campaigns.