Diabetes prevalence and risk factors among ethnic minorities

Eur J Public Health. 2009 Oct;19(5):511-5. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckp096. Epub 2009 Jul 8.


Background: Ethnic minorities living in Western societies may have a higher prevalence of diabetes. We investigated whether the prevalence of diabetes among Turkish and Moroccan migrants differs from the indigenous urban population in the Netherlands, and whether these differences can be explained by differences in risk factors.

Methods: In 2004 a general health survey, stratified by ethnicity and age, was carried out among the population of Amsterdam. The current study included 375 Turkish, 314 Moroccan and 417 Dutch individuals aged 18-70 years. Participants underwent a physical examination and a health interview. Diabetes was based on self-report, the use of anti-diabetic medicine, blood glucose levels and HbA1c.

Results: The prevalence of diabetes in the Amsterdam population was significantly higher in Turkish (5.6%) and Moroccan (8.0%), compared to Dutch individuals (3.1%). These differences, which were much larger after adjustment for age, were only partly explained by the lower socioeconomic status and higher frequency of obesity among ethnic minorities. The difference between Dutch and Moroccan individuals remained significant even after adjustments for multiple risk factors. The typical age of onset of diabetes in both Turks and Moroccans is respectively one and two decades younger than in the indigenous population.

Conclusion: Diabetes is more prevalent among Turkish and Moroccan migrants as compared to the indigenous population. Only part of this difference can be explained by differences in demographic and lifestyle risk factors.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Diabetes Mellitus / ethnology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / ethnology
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morocco / ethnology
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Turkey / ethnology
  • Young Adult