Diabetes is a major public health problem worldwide. This problem is particularly relevant to the elderly. The prevalence of each condition increase with age. The present study aimed to determine the prevalence of Diabetes Mellitus (DM) among elderly; we also examined socio-economic factors and life style that are likely to be associated with DM.
A cross-sectional study was conducted in 2008–2009, and used a multistage cluster sampling method to select a representative sample among non institutionalized elderly in Monastir City. A total of 598 elderly aged 65 to 95 years were included.
The prevalence of DM was 27.4% (29.2% in males’ vs 26.5% in females). Elderly with DM showed higher prevalence of hypertension, obesity and abdominal obesity. DM prevalence decreased with advancing ages in both men and women. Urban residents had a higher prevalence than did their rural counterparts. In multivariate analysis, DM was associated with abdominal obesity (OR [95% CI], 2.6 [1.1-6]; p <0.01), co-existing diseases (3.8 [2.4-6]; p <0.01), and hypertension (2.7 [1.6-4.5] ; p <0.01).
The study highlights the DM problem in Tunisia. An ageing population together with social, economic and lifestyle changes have led to a dramatic increase in DM. These data emphasize the urgent need for a comprehensive integrated population-based intervention program to ameliorate the growing problem of DM.