Diabetes among ethiopian immigrants to Israel: Exploring the effects of migration and ethnicity on diabetes risk

Anat Jaffe, Shmuel Giveon, Liat Wulffhart, Bernice Oberman, Laurence Freedman, Arnona Ziv, Ofra Kalter-Leibovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Diabetes prevalence among ethnic minorities and immigrants often differs from the majority indigenous population. We compared diabetes prevalence, incidence and risk among Ethiopian and non-Ethiopian Jews. Within these main groups, we controlled for the effect of migration on diabetes risk by comparing the subgroups of Ethiopian and former Soviet Union (FSU) immigrants, and compared both with Israeli-born non-Ethiopian Jews. Methods The study cohort included adult Ethiopian (n = 8,398) and age-matched non-Ethiopian Jews (n = 15,977) and subgroups: Ethiopian immigrants (n = 7,994), FSU immigrants (n = 1,541) and Israeli-born non-Ethiopian Jews (n = 10,828). Diabetes prevalence, annual incidence, and hazard ratios (HRs) adjusted for sex and metabolic syndrome (MetS)-components, were determined in three age groups (<50yrs, 50-59yrs, and 60yrs). Comparisons of body mass index (BMI) at diabetes incidence were made. Results Younger (<50yrs) Ethiopians had higher prevalence rates, 3.6% (95%CI: 3.1-4.1) and annual incidence, 0.9% (95%CI: 0.8-1.0) than non-Ethiopians, 2.7% (95%CI: 2.3-3.0) and 0.5% (95%CI: 0.4-0.6), respectively. These differences were particularly pronounced among Ethiopian women. Diabetes risk among Ethiopians was higher and adjustment for MetS-components was important only for BMI, which further increased hazard ratio (HR) estimates associated with Ethiopian ethnicity from 1.81 (95% CI:1.50-2.17) to 2.31 (95% CI:1.91-2.79). The same differences were seen when comparing Ethiopian to FSU immigrants. BMI before incident diabetes was lower among younger Ethiopian immigrants than younger FSU immigrants and Israeli-born. Conclusions Ethiopian ethnicity is associated with increased diabetes risk, which is age and BMI dependent. Young Ethiopians<50yrs, particularly women, had the greatest increase in risk. Lower BMI cut-offs should be defined to reflect diabetes risk among Ethiopians.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0157354
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2016


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