Go to content

Differences in prevalence of diabetes among immigrants to Canada from South Asian countries


Aims — The prevalence of diabetes is high in South Asians migrants. However, most previous research has studied South Asians as a collective whole. The aim of this study was to examine diabetes prevalence among immigrants from five South Asian countries living in Ontario, Canada.

Methods — Population-based healthcare and immigration databases were used to compare crude and adjusted diabetes prevalence on 1 January 2012 between immigrants to Ontario from different South Asians countries and the non-immigrant population. The prevalence of diabetes was also stratified by various sociodemographic factors.

Results — There were 431 765 first-generation South Asian immigrants; 68 440 (crude prevalence of 15.9%) of whom had a diagnosis of diabetes. After standardization for age, sex and income, diabetes prevalence was highest among South Asians from Sri Lanka (26.8%) followed by Bangladesh (22.2%), Pakistan (19.6%), India (18.3%) and Nepal (16.5%) in comparison with the non-immigrant population (11.6%). Increased prevalence was evident among men compared with women in each country of South Asia. Sociodemographic indicators including income, education, English proficiency and refugee status were associated with increased prevalence of diabetes in specific populations from South Asia.

Conclusion — Striking differences in the prevalence of diabetes are evident among immigrants from different countries of South Asia. Awareness of the heterogeneity may help in recognizing priorities for the delivery of primary care for specific South Asian migrant populations with a range of settlement needs that also encompass social determinants of health.



Banerjee AT, Shah BR. Diabet Med. 2018; 35(7):937-43. Epub 2018 Apr 16.

Contributing ICES Scientists

Associated Sites