Objective: To examine gender differences in the characteristics and prevalence of various categories of glucose tolerance in a population study in Mauritius.
Research design and methods: In 1998, a community-based cross-sectional survey was conducted in Mauritius. Categories of glucose metabolism were determined in 5388 adults, with an oral glucose tolerance test given to those who did not have previously diagnosed diabetes (n=4036). Other cardiovascular risk factors were assessed among those without known diabetes.
Results: For men and women the prevalence of diabetes (22.0 vs. 21.8%, respectively) and the prevalence of coexisting impaired fasting glucose (IFG) and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) (3.2 vs. 2.9%) were similar. However, men were twice as likely as women to have isolated IFG [5.1% (4.2-6.0) vs. 2.9% (2.3-3.5)], despite being younger, thinner and with lower plasma insulin but higher lipids. Conversely, the prevalence of isolated IGT was lower in men [9.0% (7.9-10.2) vs. 13.9% (12.6-15.1)]. Among non-diabetic individuals, fasting glucose was higher in men than women, whereas 2-h glucose was higher in women. In people without diabetes, women had significantly higher body mass index, beta cell function (HOMA-B), fasting and 2-h insulin than men and significantly lower waist-hip ratios, waist circumference, insulin sensitivity (HOMA-S) and triglycerides.
Conclusion: In Mauritius, the distribution of impaired glucose metabolism differs by sex. The observation that IFG is more prevalent in men and IGT more prevalent in women raises important questions about their underlying aetiology and the ability of the current glucose thresholds to equally identify men and women at high-risk of developing diabetes. IFG should be seen as a complimentary category of abnormal glucose tolerance, rather than a replacement for IGT.