Adult-onset diabetes among Arabs and Jews in Israel: a population-based study

Diabet Med. 2012 Jun;29(6):748-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2011.03516.x.


Aims: To study the age at presentation and factors associated with adult-onset diabetes (≥ 20 years) among Arabs and Jews in Israel.

Methods: Participants (n = 1100) were randomly selected from the urban population of the Hadera District in Israel. The study sample was stratified into equal groups according to sex, ethnicity (Arabs and Jews) and age. Information on age at diabetes presentation, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, socio-demographic and lifestyle characteristics was obtained through personal interviews. Self reports of diabetes were compared with medical records and were found reliable (κ = 0.87). The risk for diabetes was calculated using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis. Factors associated with diabetes in both ethnic groups were studied using Cox proportional hazard model.

Results: The prevalence of adult-onset diabetes was 21% among Arabs and 12% among Jews. Arab participants were younger than Jews at diabetes presentation. By the age of 57 years, 25% of Arabs had diagnosed diabetes; the corresponding age among Jews was 68 years, a difference of 11 years (P < 0.001). The greater risk for diabetes among Arabs was independent of lifestyle factors, family history of diabetes and, among women, history of gestational diabetes; adjusted hazard ratio 1.70; 95% confidence interval 1.19-2.43.

Conclusions: Arabs in Israel are at greater risk for adult-onset diabetes than Jews and are younger at diabetes presentation. Culturally sensitive interventions aimed at maintaining normal body weight and active lifestyle should be targeted at this population. Possible genetic factors and gene-environmental interactions underlying the high risk for diabetes among Arabs should be investigated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Arabs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Jews / statistics & numerical data*
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*