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One size does not fit all: diabetes prevalence among immigrants of the South Asian diaspora


The risk of diabetes is higher in South Asians compared to the general population. As a result of migration during the twentieth-century postindependence, the South Asian diaspora is incredibly vast. We examined the diabetes prevalence between groups of the South Asian diaspora based on their distinct migration patterns. Population-based healthcare and immigration administrative data were used to compare crude and standardized diabetes prevalence between immigrants from nine regions of the South Asian diaspora and the non-immigrant population. Diabetes prevalence across groups were also stratified by gender. There were 199,003 South Asian immigrants; 33,882 (crude prevalence of 17.0%) of whom had a diagnosis of diabetes. The nine subgroups varied significantly in the prevalence of diabetes after adjusting for age, sex and income: Sri Lanka 24.3%, Pakistan 22.2%, Fiji 21.5%, Bangladesh 20.7%, the Caribbean 20.4%, India 16.0%, East Africa 13.8%, South Africa 10.8%, and the Middle East 9.6% in comparison to the non-immigrant population 17.8%. Higher prevalence was evident among men compared with women in each subgroup with the exception of Pakistan. Diabetes prevalence is not uniform among South Asians. Our findings highlight potential impacts of their unique migration histories on the risk and burden of diabetes, and move beyond a one size fits all approach in the South Asian population of Ontario to develop targeted interventions.



Banerjee AT, Shah B. J Immigr Minor Health. 2021; 23(4):653-8. Epub 2020 Sep 29.

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