Objective: To determine age-specific, sex-specific and total prevalence rates of diabetes mellitus among Saskatchewan First Nations adults and to compare these rates by tribal grouping, geography and with non-First Nations people.
Design: A point prevalence study of all Saskatchewan reserves in 1990.
Results: Age-adjusted rates of diabetes mellitus were higher (risk ratio 1.8) among First Nations adults (9.7%) than among non-First Nations adults (6.1%). These racial differences were greater between women (12.1 vs 6.6%) than men (7.2 vs 5.6%). First Nations diabetes rates were highest among individuals with Saulteaux and Sioux ancestry, and among those living on southern reserves.
Conclusions: The prevalence of diabetes mellitus among Saskatchewan First Nations people has increased from 0% to almost 10% within the adult population since 1934 and has more than doubled from 1980 to 1990. This epidemic manifests itself to a greater extent among women and certain tribal groups, possibly due to differences in exposure to non-traditional lifestyles.