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Type 2 diabetes and obesity among sub-Saharan African native and migrant populations: dissection of environment and endogenous predisposition

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Diabetes in African migrants

A comparative study of Ghanaians in Ghana and abroad has identified risk factors for diabetes and obesity in these populations for the first time.

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The increasing incidence of obesity and diabetes in sub-Saharan African (SSA) populations in Europe highlights the need for tailored health policies. The EU-funded RODAM (Type 2 diabetes and obesity among sub-Saharan African native and migrant populations: Dissection of environment and endogenous predisposition) project studied Ghanaian populations in Europe and Ghana to identify differences in lifestyle, epigenetics and biochemistry that increase risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D) and obesity in SSA migrants. At each study site (rural and urban Ghana, and three European cities), researchers surveyed nutrition, lifestyle, biochemistry and genetic information. Overall, just under 6 000 participants were interviewed and sampled. RODAM found that obesity and T2D were both more prevalent in urban Ghana and Europe than in rural Ghana. The project also identified several new genetic markers associated with diabetes and obesity in Ghanaian populations. Lastly, the project showed that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is responsible for the burden of metabolic disease in SSA populations. Healthcare providers will be able to use this information to tailor intervention programmes in migrant populations. Such outcomes could also guide informed policymaking at the national level in Europe and in neighbouring countries.


Diabetes, migrants, Ghanaians, obesity, sub-Saharan African, RODAM

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