Aims: Diabetes is a growing worldwide problem. Ascertaining its prevalence is vital as a starting point to establish and measure the success of health interventions. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes and 'pre-diabetes', defined as impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance, in the Portuguese population aged between 20 and 79 years.
Methods: Considering the number of inhabitants between 20 and 79 years old, statistical units were selected that were representative regionally and nationally. The total sample comprised 5167 subjects. National prevalence was calculated. Analyses were performed on all those without previously known diabetes using World Health Organization reference diagnostic criteria.
Results: We found a diabetes prevalence of 11.7% (95% confidence interval 10.8-12.6%), with a significant difference between men (14.2%; 95% confidence interval 12.5-15.5%) and women (9.5%; 95% confidence interval 8.5-10.6%). While 6.6% of the subjects had previously been diagnosed with diabetes, 5.1% were undiagnosed. By age groups, 2.4% of the population between 20 and 39 years, 12.6% of people from 40 to 59 years old and 26.3% of those aged between 60 and 79 years had diabetes. Prevalence of 'pre-diabetes' (impaired fasting glucose, impaired glucose tolerance or both) in the population was 23.3%.
Conclusions: Diabetes has a high prevalence in Portugal. If 'pre-diabetes' is also considered, about one-third (34.9%) of the population aged 20-79 years is affected. A greater number of males were found to have diabetes. We detected a high percentage of people with undiagnosed diabetes (43.6%).