Using GIS and death records to inform statewide school-based diabetes prevention interventions in Michigan


Background: One of modifiable risk factors of diabetes is unhealthy diet which is related to obesity. Individuals with childhood obesity are at higher risk of adulthood obesity. School-based diabetes prevention programs are important to reduce childhood obesity. When resources are limited, evidence-based priority need to be undertaken. However, data related to childhood obesity was not widely available, the study used diabetes-related death records as the proxy of diabetes burden. This study aimed to map and identify geographic variation of diabetes-related mortality rate by school district level in Michigan to be used for policy-relevant information.
Design and Methods: This study used death records in Michigan. Diabetes-related mortality rate and years potential life lost (YPLL) was calculated at the school district level. Spatial autocorrelation local Moran’s I and geographically weighted regression were used to evaluate spatial pattern of age-adjusted diabetes-related mortality rate by school districts.
Results: The age-adjusted diabetes-related mortality rate ranged from 17.0 (95% CI, 8.6-25.5) to 171.3 (95% CI, 135.9-206.7) deaths per 100,000 population. The YPLL per person ranged from 0 to 19.3 years (95% CI, 15.5-23.1). High rates of diabetes-related mortality rate and YPLL clustered in East central and Southeastern region of Lower Peninsula Michigan including Flint, Kearsley, Beecher, Westwood Heights, Detroit, Ecorse, River Rouge, Taylor, Allen Park and Lincoln Consolidated school districts.
Conclusions: There was variation in diabetes burden examined by diabetes-related mortality rate and YPLL at the school district level within Michigan State. The high cluster can be prioritized for the intervention programs.


Kathleen M. Baker , HDReAM Center; Department of Geography Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI

Dr. Kathleen Baker is a professor in the Department of Geography at Western Michigan University.

Her research combines geographic methods for spatial and temporal analysis with field-based research in the physical sciences such as geology, soil science, meteorology and climatology, and plant pathology.

Baker was awarded funding from the USDA to develop methods for a multi-scale, multi-crop, multi-regional crop disease forecasting system based on new publicly available data sources and web based information delivery systems. The overarching goal of the project is to reduce the impact of weather sensitive diseases on profitable crop production in the U.S., while at the same time reducing fungicide input. The project involves high volumes of data, integration of data sources, scientific workflows and online access to daily forecasts. As a proof of concept that such a system will be beneficial in a variety of cropping systems throughout the U.S. the following are used as regional case studies:

  • leaf spot of peanuts in Georgia and northern Florida,
  • Fusarium head blight of barley in the northern Great Plains, and
  • late blight of potato in Michigan.

Baker is also a co-principle investigator on the National Science Foundation funded project Geocognitive Basic Research and Expert-Novice Studies. The purpose of GeoBRAENS is to develop a better understanding of how geologists solve problems and perform geologic mapping tasks. Baker’s role is in the analysis of field navigation data, GPS tracks and maps produced during controlled mapping tasks. Ultimately, this knowledge may help us to improve the education of future geoscience students.

Baker is a member of the Association of American Geographers and the International Network for Information Technology in Agriculture.