Cognitive function in adolescence and the risk for premature diabetes and cardiovascular mortality in adulthood

Gilad Twig*, Amir Tirosh, Estela Derazne, Ziona Haklai, Nehama Goldberger, Arnon Afek, Hertzel C. Gerstein, Jeremy D. Kark, Tali Cukierman-Yaffe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: Epidemiological studies have demonstrated a relationship between cognitive function in youth and the future risk of death. Less is known regarding the relationship with diabetes related death. This study assessed the relationship between cognitive function in late adolescence and the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular- (CVD) and all-cause mortality in adulthood. Methods: This retrospective study linked data from 2,277,188 16-19 year olds who had general intelligence tests (GIT) conducted during pre-military recruitment assessment with cause of death as coded by the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. The associations between cognitive function and cause-specific mortality were assessed using Cox models. Results: There were 31,268 deaths that were recorded during 41,916,603 person-years of follow-up, with a median follow-up of 19.2 (IQR 10.7, 29.5) years. 3068, 1443, 514 and 457 deaths were attributed to CVD, CHD, stroke, and diabetes, respectively. Individuals in the lowest GIT vs. highest GIT quintiles in unadjusted models had the highest risk for all-cause mortality (HR 1.84, 95% CI 1.78, 1.91), total CVD (HR 3.32, 95% CI 2.93, 3.75), CHD (HR 3.49 95% CI 2.92, 4.18), stroke (HR 3.96 95% CI 2.85, 5.5) and diabetes-related (HR 6.96 95% CI 4.68, 10.36) mortality. These HRs were attenuated following adjustment for age, sex, birth year, body-mass index, residential socioeconomic status, education and country of origin for all-cause (HR 1.23, 95% CI 1.17, 1.28), CVD (HR 1.76, 95% CI 1.52, 2.04), CHD (HR 1.7 95% CI 1.37, 2.11), stroke (HR 2.03, 95% CI 1.39, 2.98) and diabetes-related (HR 3.14 95% CI 2.00, 4.94) mortality. Results persisted in a sensitivity analyses limited to participants with unimpaired health at baseline and that accounted competing risk. Conclusions: This analysis of over 2 million demonstrates a strong relationship between cognitive function at youth and the risk for diabetes, all-cause and CVD-related mortality independent of adolescent obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number154
JournalCardiovascular Diabetology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 5 Dec 2018


  • Adolescence
  • Cognitive performance
  • Diabetes
  • Israelis
  • Mortality


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