Diabetes in Singapore

Diabetes Singapore

  • At a given body mass index (BMI), South Asians have more abdominal visceral fat, insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, metabolic abnormalities, and metabolic syndrome leading to increased risk for diabetes and heart disease starting at a young age.1
  • The prevalence of diabetes in Singapore rose from 2% in 1975 to 9% 1998. The prevalence was highest among Indian women 15% and Indian men 17% .2
  • Asian Indians are not only more susceptible to the development of diabetes than Chinese and Malays but Indian diabetics are also more prone to develop heart disease. The risk of heart disease among Indians with diabetes is increased 4-6-fold compare to Chinese and 3-fold compared to Malays.3  The risk persisted after adjustment for gender, age, educational level, smoking, hypertension, alcohol intake, and obesity.4
  • Undiagnosed diabetes and prediabetes were more common than known diabetes and also were associated with increased mortality.4
  • Given the magnitude of risk, the prevention of diabetes amongst Asians is particularly important for the prevention of CAD.3 4
  • Diabetes is also a major contributor to stroke and is found in 52% of Indians with stroke.5


1. Hughes K, Aw TC, Kuperan P, Choo M. Central obesity, insulin resistance, syndrome X, lipoprotein(a), and cardiovascular risk in Indians, Malays, and Chinese in Singapore. J Epidemiol Community Health. 1997;51(4):394-399.

2.  Lee WR. The changing demography of diabetes mellitus in Singapore. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2000;50 Suppl 2:S35-39.

3. Yeo KK, Tai BC, Heng D, et al. Ethnicity modifies the association between diabetes mellitus and ischaemic heart disease in Chinese, Malays and Asian Indians living in Singapore. Diabetologia. Dec 2006;49(12):2866-2873.

4. Ma Y, Li Y, Chiriboga DE, et al. Association between carbohydrate intake and serum lipids. J Am Coll Nutr. Apr 2006;25(2):155-163.

5. Sharma VK, Tsivgoulis G, Teoh HL, Ong BK, Chan BP. Stroke Risk Factors and Outcomes Among Various Asian Ethnic Groups in Singapore. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. Oct 22 2010.

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