Increased prevalence of diabetes among immigrants from non-European countries in 60-year-old men and women in Sweden

Diabetes Metab. 2007 Feb;33(1):30-6. doi: 10.1016/j.diabet.2006.07.001. Epub 2007 Jan 26.


Aims: To estimate the prevalence of risk factors for diabetes in subjects of foreign origin compared to Swedish-born.

Methods: A cross-sectional study with subjects included from a random sample of the population of in Stockholm County, Sweden, among 60-year-old men and women. Number in the analyzed groups were Swedish-born n=3329, immigrants from Europe n=654, and immigrants from non-European countries n=123. The health screening including physical examination, laboratory testing and a questionnaire on medical, socioeconomic and life-style factors.

Results: Men showed a higher prevalence of diabetes than women, 9.7% vs. 5.1% (P<0.001). Among European immigrants, no excess risk was present compared to Swedish-born subjects, 7.6% vs. 6.9%, sex-adjusted odds ratio (OR): 1.14 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.83-1.57). Among non-European immigrants, prevalence of diabetes was two times higher, i.e. 14.6%, sex-adjusted OR: 2.19 (95% CI: 1.30-3.69), compared to Swedish-born subjects. When also adjusting for anthropometrical, socioeconomic and life-style factors, ORs were for European immigrants 0.95 (95% CI: 0.68-1.33), and non-European immigrants OR: 1.21 (95% CI: 0.65-2.26). Beside sex, i.e. female OR: 0.50 (95% CI: 0.38-0.66), the only significant covariate in full model was BMI-category, i.e. overweight OR: 1.83 (95% CI: 1.29-2.59), and obesity OR: 4.64 (95% CI: 3.25-6.63).

Conclusions: The prevalence of diabetes was found to be considerably higher among immigrants from non-European countries in Sweden. The excess risk was associated with above all to a higher BMI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Diet
  • Educational Status
  • Emigration and Immigration*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Overweight
  • Physical Examination
  • Prevalence
  • Sex Characteristics