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MENA region has highest diabetes rates in the world

May 31, 2023 at 3:48 pm

A member of the public receives free diabetes screening and blood pressure tests [Kaniuka Ruslan/Future Publishing via Getty Images]

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has been found to have the highest prevalence of diabetes in the world, according to a report yesterday by the Daily Mail, citing the latest research.

According to figures compiled by Our World in Data, using data from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), countries in the MENA dominate the list of the top 20 countries with the worst diabetes rates. The study measured the prevalence of diabetes among populations aged 20-79 in 211 countries.

Although South Asian country Pakistan topped the list with 31 per cent of the population having the condition, followed by French Polynesia, Gulf state Kuwait was in third position at 24.9 per cent.

Other MENA and Arab League states were among the countries worst affected, including Egypt which ranked 10th (21 per cent), Qatar at 14th place (20 per cent), Sudan at 17th (19 per cent) followed by Saudi Arabia with 19 per cent of the population said to be living with diabetes. In contrast, the US and Britain ranked 59 and 136, respectively.

However, Mauritania had a rate of just 2.1 per cent, coming in at 205 out of 211, and therefore was the only Arab state in the bottom ten.

Reporting on the findings, Arab News noted that “Research has shown that ethnic groups across MENA and South Asia have greater genetic predispositions to insulin resistance — a trigger for diabetes.” A study from 2019 on the epidemiology of type 2 diabetes in MENA also found that “Specifically, the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) carried the highest prevalence of diabetes in 2019 at 12.2% and is expected to witness a 96% increase in diabetes prevalence between 2019 and 2045.”

In 2021, 537 million adults worldwide had diabetes, according to the IDF, representing a 16 per cent (74 million) increase from 2019. Globally, over 90 per cent of people with diabetes have type 2, which develops as a result of obesity, poor diet, sedentary lifestyles and family history.

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