High prevalence of diabetes among migrants in the United Arab Emirates using a cross-sectional survey

Nabil Sulaiman, Salah Albadawi, Salah Abusnana, Maisoon Mairghani, Amal Hussein, Fatheya Al Awadi, Abdulrazak Madani, Paul Zimmet, Jonathan Shaw

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12 Citations (Scopus)


In 2011, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had the 10th highest diabetes prevalence globally, but this was based on data that excluded migrants who comprise 80% of the population. This study assessed diabetes prevalence across the UAE population. A random sample of migrants was recruited from the visa renewal centers. Data were collected using interviews, anthropometric measurements and fasting blood for glucose, lipids and genetic analyses. 2724 adults completed the questionnaires and blood tests. Of these, 81% were males, 65% were ≤40 years old and 3% were above 60 years. Diabetes, based on self-report or fasting plasma glucose ≥7.0 mmol/l, showed a crude prevalence of 15.5%, of whom 64.2% were newly diagnosed. Overall age- and sex-adjusted diabetes prevalence, according to the world mid-year population of 2013, was 19.1%. The highest prevalence was in Asians (16.4%) and non-Emirati Arabs (15.2%) and lowest in Africans and Europeans (11.9%). It increased with age: 6.3% in 18-30 years and 39.7% in 51 to 60 years. Lower education, obesity, positive family history, hypertension, dyslipidemia, snoring, and low HDL levels, all showed significant associations with diabetes. The high diabetes prevalence among migrants in the UAE, 64% of which was undiagnosed, necessitates urgent diabetes prevention and control programs for the entire UAE population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6862
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018
Externally publishedYes

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