Prevalence of diabetes among migrant women and duration of residence in the United Arab Emirates: A cross sectional study

Syed M. Shah, Raghib Ali, Tom Loney, Faisal Aziz, Iffat ElBarazi, Salma Al Dhaheri, M. Hamed Farooqi, Iain Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The prevalence rate of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is one of the highest in United Arab Emirates (UAE), however data for the expatriate population is limited. This study aimed to identify the prevalence of T2DM amongst migrant women and test the hypothesis that acculturation (measured by years of residency) is associated with an increased risk of T2DM. Methods: This was a cross-sectional study and we recruited a representative sample (n = 599, 75% participation rate) of migrant women aged 18 years and over in Al Ain, UAE. The American Diabetes Association criteria were used to diagnose T2DM. An adapted WHO STEPS questionnaire was used to collect socio-demographic, lifestyle and clinical data. Logistic regression analysis was performed to identify correlates of T2DM including length of UAE residence. Results: The mean age of participants was 34.1 (±9.5) years. Of the study participants, based on HbA1C levels, 18.6% (95% CI: 13.9-24.4) had prediabetes and 10.7% (95% CI: 7.2-15.6) had T2DM. Prevalence of prediabetes was 8.5% for Filipinos, 16.7% for Arabs and 30.3% for South Asians. Similarly the prevalence of T2DM was 1.7% for Filipinos, 12.2% for Arabs and 16.7% for South Asians. Significant correlates of overall T2DM (measured and known diabetes) included length of UAE residence for more than 10 years (Adjusted Odds Ratio [AOR] 2.74, 95% CI: 1.21-6.20), age-40 years (AOR = 3.48, 95% CI: 1.53-7.87) and South Asian nationality (AOR 2.10, 95% CI: 0.94-4.70). Conclusion: Diabetes is a significant public health problem among migrant women in the UAE, particularly for South Asians. Longer length of residence in the UAE is associated with a higher prevalence of diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0169949
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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