Topical Area: Global Nutrition
Economic development, globalization and urbanization has resulted in a shift in dietary consumption and energy expenditure in low- and middle-income countries, called the Nutrition Transition. At the same time, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) and associated co-morbidities are rising worldwide. The Saharawi refugees have been living in refugee camps in the Algerian desert since 1975 and are totally dependent on food aid. High prevalence of overweight and obesity has been reported among Saharawi women. Limited knowledge about the prevalence of T2D and associated risk factors exists in this population; therefore, the aim with this study was to address this gap in the literature.
A cross-sectional survey was carried out in five Saharawi refugee camps, in Algeria and 180 women and 175 men were randomly selected. Participants’ blood glucose levels was assessed by HbA1c measurements and diagnosed with diabetes if HbA1c ≥ 48 mmol/mol and prediabetes if HbA1c was between 42-47 mmol/mol. The Finnish Diabetes Risk Score (FINDRISK) was used to assess various risk factors for T2D.
Mean HbA1c among the Saharawi refugees was 38 mmol/mol. Seven and 15% were diagnosed with T2D and prediabetes, respectively, and 26% and 19% were overweight and obese, respectively. According to FINDRISK, 9% of the participants had high risk of developing diabetes, 10% had moderate risk, 37% had some risk and 44% had low risk. In multiple logistic regression models, after controlling for age, gender, number of children, BMI and education, the strongest predictor for diabetes was waist circumference, OR (95% CI): 1.1 (1.0, 1.1). The strongest predictor for prediabetes was age and waist circumference OR (95% CI): 1.0 (1.0, 1.1) and OR (95% CI): 1.1 (1.0, 1.1), respectively.
Conclusions : We found moderate prevalence of diabetes among the Saharawi refugees; however a high proportion had prediabetes and were suffering from overweight and obesity. In light of this, the rates of T2D are likely to increase dramatically in the near future. The Saharawi health authorities should pay attention to the increased risk of diabetes in this in this vulnerable population.
Funding Sources : Oslo Metropolitan University
Associate Professor and Visiting Researcher
Oslo Metropolitan University and UC Davis
Victoria Telle Hjellset
Norwegian University of Life Science
Marte Karoline Raberg Kjollesdal
Norwegian Institute of Public Health
MSc public health nutrition
University of South-Eastern Norway
Marianne Sandsmark Morseth
Oslo Metropolitan University