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J Trop Med Hyg. 1995 Dec;98(6):407-15.

Diabetes, obesity and hypertension in urban and rural people of bedouin origin in the United Arab Emirates.

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Al Ain Hospital, Ministry of Health, United Arab Emirates.


In the United Arab Emirates, coronary heart disease has emerged as the leading cause of mortality over a 20-year period of rapid socioeconomic development. CHD risk factors of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), obesity and hypertension were investigated by community based survey among a bedouin-derived Emirati population sample of 322 subjects (> or = 20 years). Diagnosis of diabetes was based on a random capillary blood glucose level > or = 11.1 mmol l-1. Overall diabetes prevalence was 6% (11% in male and 7% in female subjects aged 30-64 years). Urban residence was associated with higher blood glucose levels (P = 0.000), and with higher Body Mass Index (BMI) values (P = 0.002): 27% of all urban residents were obese (BMI > or = 30). The Shamsi were positively associated with higher blood glucose levels compared with other tribal groups (P = 0.000). Female gender was associated with higher BMI values (P = 0.000). Between 19 and 25% of all subjects (male or female; urban or rural residents) have systolic hypertension (> 140 mm Hg). Male gender was associated with raised diastolic BP (P = 0.023). Diabetes was associated with higher mean systolic (P = 0.0274) and diastolic (P = 0.0132) BP levels. Differences in lifestyle between urban and rural residents are becoming blurred with further socioeconomic development and it is expected that the incidence of these CHD risk factors will continue to rise. Further studies are needed to specify changes associated with urbanization. Tribal influence also merits further study given the tradition of consanguinity in the UAE and the genetic basis to NIDDM.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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