High incidence of Type 2 diabetes mellitus in South African Indians: a 10-year follow-up study

Diabet Med. 2003 Jan;20(1):23-30. doi: 10.1046/j.1464-5491.2003.00782.x.


Aims: Previous cross-sectional studies have established that South African Indians have a high prevalence of Type 2 diabetes mellitus. A prospective community study was undertaken to determine the incidence of Type 2 diabetes and the risk factors associated with its development in a cohort of South African Indians who had been studied 10 years previously.

Methods: This is a report on 563 subjects who participated both at baseline and at the 10-year follow-up study. In the baseline study, 2479 subjects (> 15 years) were studied; using 1985 World Health Organization criteria for glucose tolerance based on 75 g oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTT), the crude prevalence of diabetes mellitus (Diabetes) was 9.8% and of impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) 5.8% (age and sex-adjusted prevalence 13% and 6.9%, respectively).

Results: At the 10-year follow-up study, 563 of the subjects who could be traced consented to a repeat OGTT; of these, 91 (16.2%) were classified as Diabetes and 41 (7.3%) as IGT. Of the subjects who did not have diabetes at baseline (n = 517), 49 (9.5%) progressed to diabetes (PTD) and 40 (7.7%) had IGT. The crude cumulative incidence of diabetes was 9.5% (rate of progression 0.95% per annum; incidence density 9.5/1000 person years) with an age and sex-adjusted cumulative incidence of 8.3% (rate of progression 0.95% per annum; incidence density 8.3/1000 person years). Examination of risk factors predictive of subsequent diabetes development was undertaken by analysis of baseline (year 0) variables in the 517 subjects who did not have diabetes at baseline. In multivariate analysis using a logistic regression model, the significant predictive risk factors for future diabetes included 2-h post load plasma glucose (2 PG) (P < 0.0001, odds ratio (OR) 1.7, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.4-2.1), body mass index (BMI) (P < 0.006, OR 1.1, 95% CI 1.0-1.3) and obesity (P < 0.01, OR 4.6, 95% CI 1.4-14.7).

Conclusions: This long-term study has shown that in South African Indians there is a high incidence of Type 2 diabetes, and in this population significant predictors include higher baseline blood glucose, BMI and obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asia / ethnology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Risk Factors
  • South Africa / epidemiology