Research Article

High prevalence of diabetes in an urban population in south India.

BMJ 1988; 297 doi: (Published 03 September 1988) Cite this as: BMJ 1988;297:587
  1. A. Ramachandran,
  2. M. V. Jali,
  3. V. Mohan,
  4. C. Snehalatha,
  5. M. Viswanathan
  1. Diabetes Research Centre, Madras, India.


    An urban population in a township in south India was screened for diabetes with an oral glucose tolerance test, every fifth person aged 20 and over registered at the local iron ore company's hospital being screened. Of 678 people (346 men and 332 women) who were tested, 34 (5%; 20 men and 14 women) had diabetes and 14 (2%; 8 men and 7 women) had impaired glucose tolerance. Thirteen subjects were already known to be diabetic. Diabetes was present in 21% (37/179) of people aged over 40. The peak prevalence (41%; 7/17) was in the group aged 55-64. A family history of diabetes was present in 16 of the 34 subjects with diabetes and nine of the 15 with impaired glucose tolerance. Diabetes was significantly related to obesity in women but not in men (57% (8/14) v 5% (1/20)). The plasma glucose concentration two hours after glucose loading was correlated to body mass index, age, and income in both sexes. The prevalence of diabetes was significantly higher in subjects whose income was above the mean. When the overall prevalence of diabetes was adjusted to the age distribution of the Indians living in Southall, London, and in Fiji it increased to 10% and 9%, respectively. The prevalence of diabetes is high among urban Indians and is comparable with the high prevalence seen in migrant Indian populations.