Aims: To perform a systematic review of the prevalence of diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) in Indigenous Australians in order to clarify overall patterns, by determinants such as age, gender, region, ethnicity and remoteness.
Methods: The OVID interface to Medline and the Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet databases were systematically searched from years 1997 to 2010. Studies reporting diabetes prevalence were included if they used population-based samples of Indigenous Australians. Diagnosis of diabetes was based on self-report or standard diagnostic criteria.
Results: Twenty-four studies were included. The diabetes prevalence ranged from 3.5 to 33.1%; IGT estimates ranged from 4.7 to 21.1%. Prevalence was greater among Indigenous Australian women compared to men, the Northern Territory's Top End compared to Central Australia, Torres Strait Islanders compared to Aboriginals, older (≥35 years) compared to younger (<35 years) age groups, and remote compared to urban settings. Patterns of IGT prevalence were similar to those observed for diabetes.
Conclusions: Although the prevalence of diabetes and IGT is high, there appears to be considerable variation in prevalence between different segments of the Australian Indigenous population. Data on diabetes prevalence in the urban Australian Indigenous population is lacking, despite accounting for almost three quarters of the total population.
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