Prevalence of glucose intolerance and associated risk factors in rural and urban populations of different ethnic groups in Kenya

Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2009 Jun;84(3):303-10. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2009.03.007. Epub 2009 Apr 9.


Objective: To assess the prevalence of glucose intolerance in rural and urban Kenyan populations and in different ethnic groups. Further, to identify associations between lifestyle risk factors and glucose intolerance.

Research design and methods: A cross-sectional study included an opportunity sample of Luo, Kamba, Maasai, and an ethnically mixed group from rural and urban Kenya. Diabetes and IGT were diagnosed using a standard OGTT. BMI, WC, AFA, AMA and abdominal subcutaneous and visceral fat thicknesses, physical activity and fitness were measured. Questionnaires were used to determine previous diabetes diagnosis, family history of diabetes, smoking habits, and alcohol consumption.

Results: Among 1459 participants, mean age 38.6 years (range 17-68 years), the overall age-standardized prevalence of diabetes and IGT was 4.2% and 12.0%. The Luo had the highest prevalence of glucose intolerance among the rural ethnic groups. High BMI, WC, AFA, abdominal visceral and subcutaneous fat thickness, low fitness and physical activity, frequent alcohol consumption, and urban residence were associated with glucose intolerance.

Conclusions: The prevalence of diabetes and IGT among different Kenyan population groups was moderate, and highest in the Luo. The role of lifestyle changes and ethnicity on the effect of diabetes in African populations needs further exploration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance / blood
  • Glucose Intolerance / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Kenya / epidemiology
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose