Global variability in diabetes mellitus and its association with body weight and primary healthcare support in 49 low- and middle-income developing countries

Diabet Med. 2012 Aug;29(8):995-1002. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2011.03549.x.


Aims: In the absence of any previous global comparison, we examined the variability in prevalence of diabetes mellitus across 49 developing countries, and the associations of diabetes with body weight and primary healthcare support using data from the World Health Survey.

Methods: Diabetes mellitus was defined by individuals' self-report of a physician diagnosis of diabetes. BMI is the weight (kg)/the square of the height (m). Healthcare support was assessed using clinical treatment status and whether patients with diabetes followed prescribed behaviour changes to control diabetes. Associations of diabetes with BMI and diabetes treatment status were analysed cross-sectionally.

Results: A total of 215898 participants were included in the analysis. Age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes ranged from 0.27% (Mali) to 15.54% (Mauritius). Participants who were underweight (BMI <18.5 kg/m(2) ), overweight (BMI 25-29.9 kg/m(2) ) and obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m(2) ) were significantly associated with odds of having diabetes as compared with those who were of normal weight (BMI 18.5-24.9 k/m(2) ), with corresponding values of multivariate adjusted odds ratios (95% CI) of 1.15 (1.07-1.24), 1.56 (1.44-1.68) and 2.35 (2.17-2.61), respectively. The overall untreated rate of those with diabetes mellitus was 9.6% in the total sample. Patients with underweight had the highest diabetes untreated rate, followed by those with normal weight, overweight and obesity.

Conclusion: There are significant variations in prevalence of diabetes and primary healthcare support for diabetes across low- and middle-income countries. Aggressively preventing abnormal body weight and improving healthcare support may play a pivotal role in ameliorating the unfavourable epidemic of diabetes in developing countries.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Developing Countries*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult