Objective: To investigate the prevalence and characteristics of patients with type 2 diabetes diagnosed before the age of 40 years (early-onset disease) in a nationwide, population-based study.
Methods: Using a multistage sampling procedure, we enrolled a representative sample of Mexican urban adults aged 20 to 69 years. Weight, height, blood pressure, and plasma levels of glucose, insulin, and other metabolic parameters were measured in all subjects.
Results: We identified 993 subjects with type 2 diabetes, including 143 subjects aged 20 to 39 years (14% of those with diabetes). Subjects with early-onset diabetes had a greater prevalence of obesity and higher plasma insulin and lipid levels than did age-matched controls, and a greater prevalence of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels <35 mg/dL and severe hypertriglyceridemia than did older subjects with diabetes. Those (n = 32) with a normal body mass index (20 to 25 kg/m(2)) tended to have insulin deficiency as the main abnormality, whereas the "metabolic syndrome" characterized the remaining 111 subjects with early-onset diabetes.
Conclusion: Most patients with early-onset type 2 diabetes in Mexico are obese or overweight, suggesting that obesity treatment and prevention programs may be effective in reducing the prevalence of this disease.