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Diabetes Metab. 2001 Dec;27(6):628-34.

Diabetes in Africans. Part 1: epidemiology and clinical specificities.

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Service de Diabétologie, Hôpital Saint-Louis, 1 Avenue Claude Vellefaux, 75475 Paris Cedex 10, France.


The prevalence of diabetes in African communities is increasing with ageing of the population and lifestyle changes associated with rapid urbanisation and westernisation. Traditional rural communities still have very low prevalence, at most 1-2%, except in some specific high-risk groups, whereas 1-13% or more adults in urban communities have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the predominant form (70-90%), the rest being represented by typical type 1 patients and patients with atypical presentations that require more pathophysiological insight. Due to the high urban growth rate, dietary changes, reduction in physical activity, and increasing obesity, it is estimated that the prevalence of diabetes is due to triple within the next 25 years. In addition, long-term complications occur early in the course of diabetes and concern a high proportion of patients, probably higher than in other ethnic groups, and that could be partly explained by uncontrolled hypertension, poor metabolic control and possible ethnic predisposition. The combination of the rising prevalence of diabetes and the high rate of long-term complications in Africans will lead to a drastic increase of the burden of diabetes on health systems of African countries. The design and implementation of appropriate strategy for early diagnosis and treatment, and population-based primary prevention of diabetes in these high-risk populations is therefore a public health priority.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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