Open Access Open Badges Research article

Diabetes mellitus type 2 and other chronic non-communicable diseases in the central region, Saudi Arabia (riyadh cohort 2): a decade of an epidemic

Nasser M Al-Daghri12*, Omar S Al-Attas12, Majed S Alokail12, Khalid M Alkharfy123, Mansour Yousef4, Shaun Louie Sabico1 and George P Chrousos15

Author Affiliations

1 Biomarkers Research Program, Biochemistry Department, College of Science, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

2 Center of Excellence in Biotechnology Research, King Saud University, Riyadh, 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

3 Clinical Pharmacy Department, College of Pharmacy, King Saud University, Riyadh 11451, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

4 Health Affairs for Riyadh Region, Ministry of Health, 11176 Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

5 Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism & Diabetes, University of Athens Medical School, Children's Hospital Aghia Sophia, Athens 115 27, Greece

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BMC Medicine 2011, 9:76  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-76

Published: 20 June 2011



Follow-up epidemiologic studies are needed to assess trends and patterns of disease spread. No follow-up epidemiologic study has been done in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to assess the current prevalence of major chronic, noncommunicable diseases, specifically in the urban region, where modifiable risk factors remain rampant. This study aims to fill this gap.


A total of 9,149 adult Saudis ages seven to eighty years (5,357 males (58.6%) and 3,792 females (41.4%)) were randomly selected from the Riyadh Cohort Study for inclusion. Diagnosis of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DMT2) and obesity were based on the World Health Organization definitions. Diagnoses of hypertension and coronary artery disease (CAD) were based on the Seventh Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure and American Heart Association criteria, respectively.


The overall crude prevalence of DMT2 was 23.1% (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 20.47 to 22.15). The age-adjusted prevalence of DMT2 was 31.6%. DMT2 prevalence was significantly higher in males, with an overall age-adjusted prevalence of 34.7% (95% CI 32.6 to 35.4), than in females, who had an overall age-adjusted prevalence of 28.6% (95% CI 26.7 to 29.3) (P < 0.001). The overall crude prevalence of obesity was 31.1% (95% CI 30.1 to 32.0). The age-adjusted prevalence of obesity was 40.0%. The prevalence of obesity was higher in females, with an overall prevalence of 36.5% (95% CI 35.1 to 37.83), than in males (25.1% (95% CI 23.7 to 26.3)) (P < 0.001). The age-adjusted prevalence of hypertension and CAD were 32.6% (95% CI 31.7 to 33.6) and 6.9% (95% CI 6.4 to 7.4), respectively.


Comparisons of our findings with earlier data show that the prevalence of DMT2, hypertension and CAD in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has alarmingly worsened. Aggressive promotion of public awareness, continued screening and early intervention are pivotal to boosting a positive response.