Ethiopian olim develop high rate of Type 2 diabetes

Immigrants are receiving inadequate medical care for the condition, according to a new study by Dr. Anat Jaffe.

diabetes pic 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy 'Diabetes Voice')
diabetes pic 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy 'Diabetes Voice')
Although obesity and Type 2 diabetes were almost unknown among Ethiopian Jews before their aliya, they have become increasingly common here, but the immigrants are receiving inadequate medical care for the condition, according to a new study by Dr. Anat Jaffe, head of the diabetes and endocrinology unit at Hillel Jaffe Medical Center in Hadera.
Her study was presented on Tuesday in the Knesset at a special meeting to establish a lobby for the struggle against obesity and diabetes, initiated by physician and Kadima MK Rachel Adatto.
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According to the study, only 0.4 percent of Ethiopian immigrants had Type 2 diabetes when they came on aliya, but this grew to 8.9% four years after their arrival. Seven years after immigration, the rate among the former immigrants rose to 9.6%, said Jaffe. Between 10 and 16 years after aliya, the rate grew to 16.6%. This is the result of adopting a diet that is not nutritious, with too much sugar, white flour and other processed foods instead of more expensive vegetables, fruits, pulses and fish.
While 92% of the general population with diabetes said they understand most of their doctors’ explanations about the condition, only 48% of the Ethiopian immigrants agreed with that statement. Nurses’ explanations of the disease and how to handle it were understandable to only 26% of the immigrants with diabetes, compared to 47% of diabetics in the general population.
Clinical dietitians did better, with 45% of the immigrants understanding their information and instructions, compared to 98% among patients in the general population.
But pharmacists didn’t get their message across; only 18% of the immigrants understood, compared to 79% of veteran Israelis with the condition.
It is known around the world that the poor and uneducated are more likely to contract the chronic disease than the well-off and educated, who are more likely to exercise and eat nutritious – and more expensive – food.