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Baig, Jahan, Shah, Ahmed, and Shah: Alarming trends in type 2 diabetes mellitus – from the mountains of Pakistan to the plains of the United Arab Emirates

Introduction: Few data are available on the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in a population living in high Himalayan mountain villages in Pakistan.

Objectives: To identify the prevalence in this population and compare it with the prevalence estimates in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Materials and methods: Population-based samples of adults aged 18 years and older from Pakistan (n = 1789) and Al Ain, UAE (622), were enrolled as part of a global health project, ‘Developed and Developing Countries Partnership for Non-communicable Disease Prevention’, between 2013 and 2014. American Diabetes Association guidelines were used to define type 2 diabetes mellitus [fasting blood sugar (FBS) ≥ 126 mg/dl] and prediabetes mellitus (FBS < 126 mg/dl and ≥ 100 mg/dl). Body mass indices of 25.0 to 29.9 and ≥ 30.0 were used to define overweight and obesity, respectively.

Results: The prevalence of overweight and obesity were, respectively, 27.1% and 12.5% in the mountain population and, respectively, 35.7% and 50.2% in Al Ain. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus and prediabetes mellitus were 6.4% and 7.6%, respectively, in the mountain population and 18.7% and 37.7%, respectively, in Al Ain.

Conclusions: Although the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus is high in the Emirati population, the type 2 diabetes mellitus crisis scaling the Himalayas is alarming given the low obesity rates. Urgent strategies are needed to improve prevention, particularly focusing on prediabetes mellitus.

Acknowledgements: This project is supported by BRIDGES. BRIDGES is an International Diabetes Federation programme supported by an educational grant from Lilly Diabetes.

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