Background: Diabetes is a major chronic health condition. Prevalence is rising, superseding public health estimates. Chronic diseases are more common among lower socioeconomic groups, for example, the homeless population. There is paucity of data on the health status of the homeless population in Ireland, and the prevalence of diabetes and associated cardiovascular risk factors is unknown.
Aim: We aimed to assess the prevalence of diabetes, pre-diabetes and the metabolic syndrome (MetS) in an Irish regional homeless population.
Design: This study is a cross-sectional study of the homeless population living in a regional university city of Ireland.
Methods: After informed consent and following an overnight fast, blood was drawn for fasting plasma glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein, low-density lipoprotein and glycosylated haemoglobin (HbA1c). A 75 g glucose load was given orally and an oral glucose tolerance test completed. Anthropometric measurements and blood pressure were recorded. Smoking, alcohol and drug status were noted.
Results: Of the 252 participants, 8% (n = 20), 10% (n = 24) and 21% (n = 54) were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, pre-diabetes and MetS, respectively. Obesity (body mass index >30) was present in 22%, while 90% displayed abdominal obesity. Participants who screened positive for diabetes, pre-diabetes and MetS demonstrated an inferior cardiovascular risk profile.
Conclusion: The prevalence of diabetes, pre-diabetes and MetS in this homeless population is in keeping with national estimates. As this cohort is less likely to seek health care, this may result in later diagnosis and a greater risk of diabetic complications at presentation.