Prevalence of overweight and obesity in United Arab Emirates Expatriates: The UAE National Diabetes and Lifestyle Study

Nabil Sulaiman, Salah Elbadawi, Amal Hussein, Salah Abusnana, Abdulrazzag Madani, Maisoon Mairghani, Fatheya Alawadi, Ahmad Sulaiman, Paul Zimmet, Oliver Huse, Jonathan Shaw, Anna Peeters

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Objective: To describe current prevalence of obesity and related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in expatriates living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Methods: We used data from the cross-sectional UAE National Diabetes and Lifestyle Study (UAEDIAB), which surveyed adult expatriates living in the UAE for at least 4 years. We report crude prevalence of overweight and obesity, indicated by gender and ethnicity-specific body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) cut-offs, by lifestyle and biomedical characteristics, as well as age and sex-adjusted odds ratios. Results: Out of a total of 3064 recruited expatriates (response rate 68%), 2724 had completed all stages of the UAEDIAB study. Expatriates were; 81% men, mean age 38 years (range 18-80), 71% South East Asians, and 36% university graduates. In this sample, the prevalence of overweight and obesity, by BMI, were 43.0 and 32.3%, respectively. 52.4 and 56.5% of participants were at a substantially increased risk according to WC and WHR, respectively. The prevalence of diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia were 15.5, 31.8, and 51.7%, respectively, with the prevalence of each being higher in those with obesity. Conclusion: Prevalence of obesity and associated NCDs are extremely high in UAE expatriates. Without comprehensive prevention and management, levels of disease will continue to increase and productivity will fall.

Original languageEnglish
Article number88
Number of pages9
JournalDiabetology and Metabolic Syndrome
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Adults
  • Expatriates
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Prevalence
  • United Arab Emirates

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