Rising Diabetes Prevalence among Urban-Dwelling Black South Africans


Diabetes has globally emerged as a major public health challenge of the 21stcentury. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where diabetes was considered rare prior to the 1990s, has also witnessed a rise in the burden. Studies conducted 10–20 years ago found that diabetes prevalence varied across the region. There are, however, limited data as to the extent of the rise. In urban Tanzania rates increased from 0.3% in the 1980s to 4.6% in 1996 according to the 1998 WHO criteria, and in urban Cameroon from 1.5% in the 1990s to 6.6% in 2003.

Diabetes was associated with 4.3% of South African adult mortality in 2000, placing it among the top ten leading causes of adult deaths in the country at that stage. Approximately 14% of ischaemic heart disease (IHD), 10% of stroke, 12% of hypertensive disease and 12% of renal disease mortality in those ≥30 years were attributable to diabetes.

There is a lack of recent data on the prevalence of diabetes in urban South Africans, which constitutes the majority of the population. The last diabetes prevalence study conducted in the urban black African population of Cape Town was in 1990. Following the trend in other SSA countries the prevalence of diabetes is expected to have risen due to a change in demography with an ageing population, urbanisation, and the increasing prevalence of obesity and physical inactivity.

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Publication Type Journal Article
Year 2012
Author(s) Peer N, Steyn K, Lombard C, Lambert EV, Vythilingum B, Levitt NS
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