objective To test the hypothesis that peninsular Arabs and South Asians share a tendency to insulin resistance, differing from other ethnic groups living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
methods A representative sample of 358 apparently healthy men aged 35–49 years drawn from a multi-ethnic office-based workforce in the UAE was tested. The sample included a reference group of expatriate South Asians, in whom insulin resistance has already been described as the cause of high coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality. All subjects were screened for CHD risk factors, including glucose tolerance and 2-h serum insulin determinations.
results There was a high prevalence of previously undiagnosed cases of diabetes (10.1%) and hypertension (14.2%). South Asian and peninsular Arab men shared the tendency to significantly higher 2-h glucose and insulin levels, lower HDL cholesterol concentrations and abdominal obesity especially compared to Europeans, who were five times less likely to be glucose-intolerant (OR 5.40, P = 0.015). Three other Arab groups were intermediate in most trends.
conclusion Susceptibility to insulin resistance in Arabian peninsula men is strongly supported, suggesting that control of obesity and promotion of exercise are the best approach to CHD prevention.