Objective: To assess the impact of diet and physical activity on the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) after adjusting for family history of diabetes.
Methods: We conducted a case-control study in Al-Qassim, KSA to test the hypothesis that dietary practices and physical activity modify the risk of type 2 diabetes regardless of family history. Male and female Saudi citizens 30-70 years of age were eligible to participate. The sample included 283 cases (T2DM patients) and 215 non-diabetic controls randomly selected from patients visiting the primary health care centers from September to November 2009. We collected information on demographic variables, family history, dietary habits, and physical activity. Using logistic regression, we estimated adjusted odds ratios (AOR) for dietary habits and physical activity after controlling for the effects of gender, age, education, and family history of diabetes.
Results: There is strong association between diabetes and maternal history of diabetes, education, lack of exercise, and dietary habits. The AOR for regular eating of Kabsa was 5.5 (95% confidence limits [CL]: 2.3-13.5); for vegetables an AOR of 0.4 (95% CL: 0.2-0.7); for dates an AOR of 1.8 (95% CL: 1.0-3.3) ;and the AOR for sedentary lifestyle was 2.5 (95% CL: 1.2-5.0).
Conclusion: Healthy diet and active lifestyle may significantly decrease the risk of T2DM in spite of having a family history of diabetes. Effective health education programs promoting healthy diet and regular exercise are needed to reduce the burden of diabetes in Saudi Arabia.