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Examining chronic disease risk and outcomes among Singapore’s major ethnic groups

A paper was recently published on the Multi-Ethnic Cohort (MEC) that comprises large numbers of each ethnic group and studies risk factors and outcomes for chronic diseases. This is the first cohort study that looks at the health and quality of life of the three major ethnic groups in Singapore.

It was found that high blood pressure is more common in ethnic Malays, and Indians have a higher risk of Type 2 Diabetes as they are more prone to insulin resistance. As for the Chinese, although the risk of diabetes is lower, they are less able to cope with fat metabolism, which may increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In terms of mental health, the Malays tend to fare better than the Chinese and Indians.

“The Malays gain a lot of spiritual support from their faith. This provides them with support during difficult times such as illness, and they have good family and social support and good interpersonal relationships,” said Associate Professor Rob van Dam, Vice Dean (Academic Affairs) and Domain Leader (Epidemiology).

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