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Highest Diabetes Prevalence in Poorest Countries

Wealthiest countries have lowest prevalence; gradient persists after adjustment for all risk factors

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FRIDAY, March 18, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Diabetes prevalence is highest in poorer countries, even after adjustment for traditional risk factors, according to a study published online March 10 in Diabetes Care.

Gilles R. Dagenais, M.D., from the Université Laval in Quebec City, and colleagues examined the prevalence of diabetes in 119,666 adults from three high-income (HIC), seven upper-middle-income (UMIC), four low-middle-income (LMIC), and four low-income (LIC) countries. They examined the correlations between diabetes and its risk factors within these country groupings.

The researchers found that the poorer countries had the highest age-and sex-adjusted diabetes prevalences, while the wealthiest countries had the lowest prevalences (LIC, 12.3 percent; UMIC, 11.1 percent; LMIC, 8.7 percent; and HIC, 6.6 percent; P for trend < 0.0001). Diabetes risk was significantly higher with a five-year increase in age, male sex, urban residency, low versus high education level, low versus high physical activity, family history of diabetes (FH), higher waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index (BMI) in the overall population. In higher versus lower income country groups, the correlation between diabetes prevalence and both BMI and FH differed (P for interaction < 0.0001). Diabetes prevalences continued to show a gradient after adjustment for all risk factors and ethnicity (LIC, 14.0 percent; LMIC, 10.1 percent; UMIC, 10.9 percent; and HIC, 5.6 percent).

"Conventional risk factors do not fully account for the higher prevalence of diabetes in LIC countries," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Several pharmaceutical companies provided unrestricted grants to fund the study.

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