Dubai: The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has revealed that approximately 30 per cent of the Dubai population is either diabetic or pre-diabetic, according to a Dubai-based 2019 survey.
DHA, in collaboration with the Dubai Statistics Centre, carried out the third household health survey for the emirate of Dubai. The survey includes an in-depth analysis of the prevalence, status, risk factors of diabetes and prediabetes in the Dubai population.
The survey revealed that the overall prevalence of diabetes mellitus, among adults (18+) in Dubai is 13.7 per cent and pre-diabetics is 16.2 per cent. In the 2017, the prevalence was 15.2 per cent for diabetes, and pre-diabetics were 15.8 per cent of the Dubai population.
The 2019 survey also revealed almost 13 per cent of those aged 25-45 have prediabetes, which indicates the need for regular screening for diabetes in this age group.
The study analysed health related behavioural risks and life patterns among Dubai population to understand the causes of the high prevalence of diabetes. Physical inactivity and obesity emerged to be major risk factors.
Physical activity levels
Only 5 per cent of those surveyed did intense physical activity such as running or playing football for ten minutes continuously. Only 17 per cent of those surveyed did daily moderate physical activity, which includes ten minutes of continuous work including household work. Almost 65 per cent did the activity 4 to 6 times a week and 18 per cent did it one to three times a week. Consequently, prevalence of diabetes in Dubai among Dubai Emiratis was 20 per cent if they were inactive. However, this reduces to 10 per cent if they were physically active.
Obesity as well had a strong impact on prevalence of diabetes, as total prevalence of diabetes was 7.5 per cent among those with normal BMI, compared with 21.5 per cent of diabetes among obese.
Prevalence of smoking among people with diabetes in Dubai revealed that almost 28 per cent of Emiratis and 10 per cent of Dubai expats who smoke had diabetes, compared to 14.5 per cent among the Emiratis and 6.3 per cent of expats who were non-smokers.
It is a well-known fact that diabetes is related to age, as the prevalence of diabetes was 2.9 per cent in the age group of 18 to 24 years while it was 43.7 per cent in the age group of 60 years and above. For those who are at risk of developing diabetes (or prediabetes), 5.4 per cent were in the age group of 18 to 24 years and 36.4 were in the age group of 60 years and above, which is alarming.
Dr Fatheya Al Awadi, Consultant Endocrinologist at Dubai Hospital and Chairperson of DHA’s Diabetes Committee said, “Prevalence is strongly related to age, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and smoking. This study reinforces the importance of lifestyle modification and highlights clearly that regular physical activity coupled with a healthy eating pattern can help prevent those with prediabetes from developing the condition.”
Al Awadhi said that in terms of diabetes treatment, DHA provides state-of-the-art multidisciplinary care for people with diabetes across all age groups and has several specialised clinics. “However, we urge the community that those who are prediabetics should urgently adopt lifestyle modifications to prevent developing the disease. It is imperative to get rid of inactivity and to exercise on a regular basis.”
Khalid Jallaf, Director of the Data Analysis, Research & Studies Department at the DHA said, “The aim of the study was to better understand diabetes prevalence and risk factors in Dubai, by assessing the incidence rates, identifying the risk factors associated and identifying the demographic distribution most vulnerable to the disease. Our aim is to enhance the health sector in Dubai and to promote public health and well-being.”
Dr Mohammed Hassanein, Senior Consultant Endocrinologist at Dubai Hospital and Member of DHA Diabetes Committee said, “The study reinforces the importance of inculcating healthy eating patterns and promoting regular exercise among those at risk so that they can continue to live a healthy life. It is imperative for community members to individually look into their daily routine and see how they can add consistent healthy habits that will prevent them for developing chronic lifestyle diseases.”
The results of the study were announced during a DHA webinar that was moderated by Dr. Heba Mamdouh, PHD in Public Health and researcher in the Data Analysis, Research & Studies Department at the DHA.