Diabetes in the Middle East and North Africa

Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2013 Aug;101(2):106-22. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2013.03.010. Epub 2013 May 1.


Aims: Even though the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region had the highest comparative prevalence of diabetes in 2012, little is known about the nuances of diabetes risk and capacity to address the burdens. To provide a comprehensive overview, we reviewed the literature on diabetes in the MENA region.

Methods: We conducted a systematic search in PubMed between January 1990 and January 2012 for studies on diabetes in the MENA region without language restriction.

Results: There was a paucity of country-specific epidemiology data in the region. Diabetes prevalence varied widely across studies, from 2.5% in 1982 to 31.6% in 2011. Older age and higher body mass index were the most strongly associated risk factors for diabetes. Among people with diabetes, over half did not meet recommended care targets. In addition, macrovascular and microvascular complications were observed in 9-12% and 15-54% of diabetes population, respectively.

Conclusions: This review suggests a need for more representative surveillance data in this noteworthy focal point of the global diabetes epidemic. Such actions will not only help to understand the actual burden of diabetes but also motivate actions on design and implementation of diabetes prevention and control programs.

Keywords: ACR; ADA 1997 and ADA 2003; DNE; DNS; Epidemiology; FPG; IFG; IGT; Middle East and North Africa; NDS; NR; NSS; OGTT; Type 2 diabetes mellitus; VPT; WC; WHO 1985; WHO 1999; WHR; albumin-creatinine ratio; diabetic neuropathy examination; diabetic neuropathy symptom; fasting plasma glucose; high waist-to-hip ratio; impaired fasting glucose; impaired glucose tolerance; neuropathy disability score; neuropathy symptom score; not reported; oral glucose tolerance test; the American Diabetes Association definition of diabetes in 1997 and 2003; the World Health Organization definition of diabetes in 1985; the World Health Organization definition of diabetes in 1999; vibration perception threshold.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Northern / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Middle East / epidemiology