Sex differences and risk factors for diabetes mellitus - An international study from 193 countries

Devy Elling, Pamela J. Surkan, Sahba Enayati, Ziad El-Khatib

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Increases in overweight and obesity among youths have resulted in the diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) at earlier ages. The impact of lifestyle-related factors has been implicated; however, its relation to morbidity and mortality and sex differences remain unclear. We aimed to document the changes in risk factors and sex differences associated with T2DM-related morbidity and mortality during 1995-2015. Method: We used mortality rates and morbidity estimates from the Global Burden of Diseases Study 2016 using Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALY). Multiple linear regression analyses were used to determine associations between T2DM-related mortality and related risk factors. DALYs were grouped by country income level, and were stratified by sex. Results: Increases in mortality were observed for both sexes, and females tended to have higher mortality rates per 100,000 persons. Body mass index (BMI) continued to be the leading risk factor for T2DM-related mortality, and increases in BMI were more common in low- and middle-income countries (LIC and MIC). Low physical activity was strongly associated with mortality rates, followed by dietary risks and smoking (2.4; 1.4; 0.8 per 100,000 persons, respectively). Similar patterns were observed after adjustments for income level, sex, and age. DALYs continued to show increasing trends across all income levels during 1995-2015 (high-income (HIC):16%; MIC: 36%; LIC: 12%). Stratification by sex showed similar results; males had fewer T2DM DALYs than females, though a greater increase was observed among males. Conclusion: Overall, T2DM related mortality was higher among females. Compared to in HIC, there appeared to be a considerable increase in the burden of T2DM in MIC and LIC, where BMI is the leading risk factor for T2DM-related mortality. Prevention programs should emphasize related risk factors according to the existing standard of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118
JournalGlobalization and health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 28 2018


  • DALY
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Global burden of disease
  • Mortality
  • Sex difference

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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