, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 558–568 | Cite as

Ethnic differences in body composition, sociodemographic characteristics and lifestyle in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus living in Italy

  • Stefania Toselli
  • Emanuela Gualdi-Russo
  • Paolo Mazzuca
  • Francesco CampaEmail author
Original Article


This study aimed to compare immigrants and Italian natives with type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2) in terms of anthropometric parameters and lifestyle-related characteristics and to investigate the relationship between ethnicity and glycemic control in men and women with DM2 living in Italy. The sample included 100 immigrants (55 Albanians and 45 Africans) and 100 Italians, followed by the Public Health Clinics of Rimini. The association of ethnicity with sex, socioeconomic status, anthropometric and hematological characteristics, and lifestyle were examined. In addition, differences among groups in glycemic control were evaluated. Among males, African participants presented significantly lower values than other groups in adiposity parameters and triglycerides. The highest percentage of obesity and of normal weight was found in Italians and in Africans, respectively. Among females, there were scanty differences, but Italians presented higher WHR values than the other groups. No statistical differences appeared in hematological parameters among groups. There were no significant differences in glycemic control among groups and sexes. Also considering the differences between subjects with optimal (L) or nonoptimal (H) glycemic control, the differences in lifestyle, anthropometric, and hematological variables remained scarce. Among all groups, significantly higher values of glucose were detected in H than in L. A similar condition appeared for triglycerides in males. Immigrant and native Italian diabetics did not present any difference in their clinical characteristics, but Italians generally presented worst lifestyle habits. The percentage of subjects with poor metabolic control of diabetes was not low, but similar in immigrants and natives.


  • There is a clear necessity to acquire knowledge of diabetes in immigrants through better data collection, especially in view of the scarcity of epidemiological studies evaluating the importance of this problem in EU countries.

  • The percentage of subjects with poor metabolic control of diabetes is high, and generally comparable between immigrants and natives.


Body composition Glycemic control Immigrants Italy Lifestyle 


Author contributions

All authors contributed to the preparation of the paper. S.T., F.C., and P.M. had the original idea for the trial and carried out the design with E.G.R. S.T. carried out the analysis reported in this paper, under the supervision of F.C. and E.G.R., and also prepared the initial draft of the paper. All authors critically reviewed the paper and approved the final version submitted for publication.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The Project was conducted in accordance with the guidelines of the Declaration of Helsinki and was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Romagna Area Regional Health System. All participants gave written informed consent after a detailed description of the study procedures.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Biomedical and Neuromotor SciencesUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical Sciences and Surgical SpecialtiesUniversity of FerraraFerraraItaly
  3. 3.Unit of Internal Medicine, Diabetes and Metabolic Disease Center, Romagna Health DistrictRiminiItaly

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