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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 29  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 343-350

Prediabetes in sub-saharan Africa: Pathophysiology, predictors, and prevalence

Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Faculty of Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Ekenechukwu Esther Young
Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medical Sciences, College of Medicine, University of Nigeria Ituku/Ozalla Enugu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/NJM.NJM_30_20

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Prediabetes – comprising impaired fasting glycaemia (IFG) and/or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) – is a transitory median interphase between normal blood glucose levels and diagnostic levels of diabetes. The raised blood glucose levels surreptitiously damage the body's organ systems and are often an augury of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), the two having been found to share similar pathogenesis. Current concepts in the pathogenesis of prediabetes support a pentad of mechanisms responsible for its development. Majority of the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa belong to the low and middle income category, whose population accounts for more than 70% of the 352 million adults (20–79 years) worldwide with IGT (one component of prediabetes), as at 2017. The presence of prediabetes increases health care related expenditure in individuals and takes a toll on the workforce. Nigeria (West Africa) is currently among the top ten countries with the highest number of individuals with IGT as at 2017, and Ethiopia (East Africa) has been projected to join Nigeria in this category by 2045. A PubMed and MEDLINE search was conducted using the keywords prediabetes, Sub-Saharan Africa, prevalence, and pathophysiology. Major studies were identified and reviewed. Numerous large scale studies have revealed that progression from prediabetes to T2DM is not relentless. Structured and intensive lifestyle modifications aimed at modest weight loss, increased physical activity, and healthy dietary habits have shown to halt or slow the progression to T2DM, and in some cases, even reverse prediabetes, with such individuals regaining normal blood glucose levels.

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