Ethnically disparate diabetes

New research conducted by University of Glasgow Professor of Metabolic Medicine Naveed Sattar has revealed that people with diabetes from the South Asian community are faring less well in managing blood glucose levels than their Caucasian counterparts, leaving them at higher risk of serious complications.

The report published today in the journal Diabetic Medicine shows that during a five year period blood glucose levels (HbA1c) in South Asians with Type 2 diabetes had significantly worsened compared to those of White patients.

The study of 1,767 patients at Victoria Hospital, Glasgow, showed that at diagnosis average HbA1c levels for South Asians and White patients were similar at 7.43% and 7.27%. However, after five years, average HbA1c levels were recorded to be 8.74% and 8.09% for South Asians and Caucasians respectively. The recommended HbA1c level for people with diabetes is 6.5% or below. Furthermore, a reduction of HbA1c by 1% has shown to reduce the risk of developing complications such as blindness, kidney disease and amputations by 37 per cent (UKPDS).

Diabetes prevalence in the UK's South Asian population is 20 per cent compared to 3 per cent of the general population.

Professor Naveed Sattar explains: "Our research suggests the need for healthcare professionals to be particularly aggressive in diabetes management and related risk factors in South Asian patients. We also confirm that South Asians develop diabetes around a decade earlier than their White counterparts and at lower levels of obesity. In other words, South Asians in general have more reasons to maintain a healthy body weight in order to prevent developing diabetes in the first place".

Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK said: "Diabetes can lead to devastating health problems including heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputations. The risk of developing any of these complications can be greatly reduced by controlling blood glucose levels. We work closely with community leaders and people from ethnic minority groups to identify their needs. We believe that providing information specifically aimed at our diverse communities and their healthcare professionals plays a vital role in raising awareness of the condition and how it can be effectively managed."

Kate Richardson (

For more information please contact Professor Naveed Sattar on 07971 189415 or the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 3535

First published: 16 January 2006

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