Non-communicable diseases have been recognized as a serious threat to public health in Palau. To tackle the problem, different strategies might be necessary for populations with different ethnic backgrounds. This study aims to find the differences in the prevalence of metabolic risk factors of non-communicable diseases between Palauans and Filipinos living in Palau, and examine possible determinants of the differences. We selected data of 2,032 participants, including native Palauans and Filipinos, from the Palau STEPS Survey 2011-2013 for this study. Logistic regression models were used to inspect the association of each metabolic risk factor with ethnicity by calculating odds ratios adjusted for potential confounding factors. Palauans had higher age-standardized prevalence of overweight or obesity (84% vs. 45%), hypertension (50% vs. 38%) and diabetes (19% vs. 13%) than Filipinos. However, after adjusting for BMI and various lifestyle related factors, there are no statistical significant differences in the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes between these two ethnic groups. Palauan men were less likely to have elevated total cholesterol, especially after adjusting for BMI (odds ratio=0.55, 95% confidence interval: 0.33-0.91), while Palauan women were more likely to have elevated triglycerides than their Filipino counterparts (odds ratio=1.45, 95% confidence interval: 1.02-2.06). Our findings suggested that Palauans' higher BMI distribution might be able to explain their higher prevalence of hypertension and partially explain their higher diabetes prevalence. Palauans were not consistently more likely to have all metabolic risk factors, namely dyslipidemia were less likely to be observed in Palauan men.
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