x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Emiratis in denial on diabetes risk, survey finds

Four out of 10 in UAE showed diabetes risk factors such as obesity, lack of exercise and smoking but almost as many believe diabetes is not always a severe condition.

DUBAI // Nearly half of UAE residents are at risk of diabetes, but almost as many are in denial about the dangers of the disease, a new survey has found.

The survey compiled by the research company Ipsos for the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk found that 42 per cent of UAE respondents showed diabetes risk factors such as obesity, lack of exercise and smoking.

Yet almost as many (40 per cent) believed diabetes was not always a severe condition.

Many fallacies remain. More than half (54 per cent) said the disease could lead to paralysis, while three in five (61 per cent) thought it could lead to memory loss. Neither is true.

The survey was based on 3,000 interviews conducted in October in 10 Middle Eastern countries: Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the UAE.

Some 27 million people in the region are thought to suffer from diabetes.

In the UAE alone, some 288,000 people have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

A study released on Tuesday by the healthcare provider United Health Group estimated that by 2020 the number would have risen to 440,000.

The Ipsos study will be considered in detail by the 700 regional and international diabetes experts who are due to gather on Sunday and Monday for the Mena Diabetes Leadership Forum in Dubai.

The former US president Bill Clinton and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark will be among the 50 speakers at the forum.

Emil Larsen, the vice president for global public affairs at Novo Nordisk, said: "The aim behind the survey is to get a clear picture of the human and economic impact of diabetes as a starting point for discussion in next week's meeting."

hkhalaf@thenational.ae