Diabetes Risk by Length of Residence among Somali Women in Europe

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Type 2 diabetes represents a major health problem worldwide, with immigrants strongly contributing to the increase in diabetes in many countries. Norway is not immune to the process, and immigrants in the country are experiencing an increase in the prevalence of diabetes after arrival. However, the dynamics of these transitions in relation to the duration of residence in the new environment in Norway are not clearly understood. From this background, a cross-sectional quantitative study using a respondent-driven sampling method was conducted among 302 Somali women living in Oslo area. The results show that 41% of the study participants will be at risk for developing diabetes in the coming 10 years, which coincides with 85% of the study participants being abdominally obese. Significant associations were found between years of stay in Norway and the risk for diabetes with those who lived in Norway >10 years, having twofold higher odds of being at risk for developing diabetes compared to those who lived in Norway ≤5 years (OR: 2.16, CI: 1.08–4.32). Understanding the mechanisms through which exposure to the Norwegian environment leads to higher obesity and diabetes risk may aid in prevention efforts for the rapidly growing African immigrant population.


Study participants demonstrated a worry about an unhealthy diet accompanied by a sedentary lifestyle.
Our study echoed the results in the UK, indicating that the typical diet of Somali immigrants largely consisted of bread, pasta and rice , with a low consumption of fruit and vegetables[48]. It is a diet that, when combined with a more sedentary lifestyle than they had in Africa, can lead straight to diabetes [40].

'The perfect size': perceptions of and influences on body image and body size in young Somali women living in Liverpool - a qualitative study

Obesity has been identified as a problem in the Somali community in Liverpool, and is affected by body image and environment. This research used qualitative methods to explore perceptions of and influences on body image and body size among young Somali women living in Liverpool. Initial discussions with Somali health workers informed a series of focus groups, which were held in local community centres. A total of 13 young Somali women were recruited for the focus groups using a snowballing technique. Themes that emerged from these groups formed the basis for further focus groups with the original participants to check the validity of the analysis and to generate possible solutions for the specific issues uncovered. The study found that young women negotiated UK and Somali cultures, endeavouring to extract positive aspects of Somali culture relating to body size and diet. However, they felt constrained by older Somalis' cultural attitudes that favour a larger body size, and by Somali men's more traditional attitude towards diet. Young Somali women wished to be healthy, but also faced environmental barriers in engaging with both exercise and healthy eating, particularly in a deprived inner-city area. Both cultural pressures and environmental barriers are likely to increase as women grow older and have children. This research highlights the need to address cultural norms in an obesity-targeted health promotion strategy. The findings suggest that public health practitioners should harness the skills and enthusiasm of young women in addressing obesity in the Somali community. The wider public health community should facilitate an environment that enables women and their children to lead healthy lifestyles. Further research is needed to examine the influence of Somali men on dietary practices.


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Norway has the highest per capita rate of Somalis, they make up something like 1% of their entire population. Perhaps that's why they had a focused study on them.
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