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Study: Refugees sent to richer areas are healthier

Published torsdag 28 april 2016 kl 09.50
A woman with diabetes tests her blood sugar. File photo: Steve Yeater / AP.
A woman with diabetes tests her blood sugar. File photo: Steve Yeater / AP.

Refugees that moved into Sweden's poorer neighborhoods during the late 1980s and early 1990s have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

The joint Swedish-American study looked at more than 61,000 adult refugees who came to Sweden between 1987 and 1991. At that time, Sweden had a policy of divvying up refugees throughout the country so that newly arrived asylum seekers did not cluster around the nation's major cities.

According to researchers from the US and Sweden's Lund University, refugees who settled in areas with low levels of socio-economic deprivation saw a lower rate of type 2 diabetes. Just 5.8 percent of refugees living there had the disease.

In moderately deprived neighborhoods, 7.2 percent of refugees suffered from type 2 diabetes, and in the worst-off areas the rate was 7.9 percent.

Researchers behind the study said there are several causes interacting with one another and leading to refugees being at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Those can be chronic stress, limited income and job opportunities, living in a segregated or high-crime area and restricted movement.

Researchers added that the study, which started in 2014, has a "heightened importance" given the current refugee crisis in Europe.

"Our study has a direct relevance to the ongoing immigration to Europe," said lead author Justin White, an assistant professor of health economics at the University of California School of Medicine in San Francisco.

The findings were published on Wednesday in the British medical journal The Lancet.

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