ISSN No. 1606-7754                   Vol.16 No.1  April 2008

Carbohydrate -Food knowledge of Emirati and Omani Adults with Diabetes: Results of a pilot study
Habiba I Ali1, Roos M Bernsen2, Sara Taleb1, Basma Al Azzani1
Department of Nutrition & Health, College of Food and Agriculture1, Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Family Medicine and Health Sciences2, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, UAE

Abstract

There is limited research on nutrition knowledge related to diabetes management in persons with diabetes in the United Arab Emirates and other Arabian Gulf countries.  Carbohydrate – containing foods have the greatest impact on post-meal blood glucose levels.  The purpose of this exploratory study was to determine nutrition knowledge related to carbohydrate- containing foods of adults with diabetes in Oman and the United Arab Emirates. A culturally-appropriate questionnaire was used to assess carbohydrate - food knowledge in a convenience sample of 94 Emirati and Omani men and women with diabetes (age (mean± s.d.): 50 ± 13.5 years) residing in the cities of Al Ain and Al Bureimi.  Carbohydrate-food knowledge score (mean± s.d.) was 6.3 ± 2 (maximum 14), reflecting low knowledge of food sources of carbohydrate. Ninety-three percent of the study participants believed that whole wheat bread does not increase their blood glucose levels and 88% of them did not think that unsweetened fruit juices can increase blood glucose levels. Further, scores for the Omani citizens were significantly lower than those of Emirati counterparts, mean difference 2.3 (95% confidence interval:1.5-3.1). Significant (p<0.05) differences in carbohydrate food knowledge scores between the 2 groups were found for 5 of the 14 food items assessed.  The results of this study underscore the importance of nutrition education programs for persons with diabetes in these 2 communities.

Keywords: carbohydrate,diabetes, nutrition knowledge

Introduction

Diabetes mellitus is a major cause of coronary artery disease, a leading cause of death in the United Arab Emirates. (Department of Preventive Medicine, Annual Report  2004; Ministry of Health, Abu Dhabi, UAE, May 2006)  According to a recent nation-wide study, nearly 25% of Emirati adults have diabetes.1  High prevalence rates of diabetes have been also reported in other countries in the Arabian Gulf.2-4  Previous studies in Oman reported a crude prevalence of diabetes of 10-16%.5,6  Diabetes is a chronic disease that requires lifestyle changes.  Metabolic control achieved through medical nutrition therapy, physical activity, and medications (when needed) improve quality of life, treat and prevent diabetes complications.7-10 Effective diabetes self-management requires that persons with diabetes acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to change their nutrition-related behaviors.  Carbohydrate–containing foods have the greatest impact on post-meal blood glucose levels.  Therefore, knowledge of foods containing carbohydrate is important for persons with diabetes in order to optimize their glycemic control. Currently, there is limited research on nutrition knowledge related to diabetes management of persons with diabetes in the United Arab Emirates and other Arabian Gulf countries. The aims of this study were to assess nutrition knowledge related to carbohydrate-containing foods and sources of nutrition advice on diabetes in a convenience sample of Emirati and Omani adults with diabetes.

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