The prevalence of diabetes mellitus and impaired glucose tolerance in melanesians and part-polynesians in Rural New Caledonia and ouvea (Loyalty Islands)

P. Zimmet, D. Canteloube, B. Genelle, G. LeGonidec, P. Couzigou, M. Peghini, M. Charpin, P. Bennett, T. Kuberski, N. Kleiber, R. Taylor

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The study of different ethnic groups living in the same physical environment provides the opportunity to examine interaction of genetic and environmental factors in the aetiology of diabetes mellitus. In rural New Caledonia, the prevalence of diabetes was higher in part-Polynesians than in Melanesians: males - 6.6 versus 0.5%; females - 6.3 versus 3.5% respectively. The prevalence of abnormal glucose tolerance (impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes) was 11.5 and 15.7% in part-Polynesian males and females, respectively, and 4.7 and 9.2% in Melanesian males and females. Mean age and degree of obesity in these ethnic groups were sufficiently similar to suggest that these factors played no significant role in the difference in diabetes prevalence. Furthermore, adjustment of relative risk of impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes for age and obesity indicated that the modest differences between groups were not responsible for the observed variation in diabetes prevalence. The differences in prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance and diabetes between Melanesians and part-Polynesians may be genetically determined, although the role of certain environmental factors other than obesity, e.g. differences in physical activity or qualitative aspects of diet, cannot be excluded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-398
Number of pages6
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1982
Externally publishedYes


  • diabetes mellitus
  • environment
  • genetics
  • glucose tolerance
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • Melanesian
  • Polynesian
  • prevalence
  • rural
  • urban

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