To determine the prevalence of hyperglycemia in semiurban-rural Saudi Arabian communities and to assess some of its important health-care related aspects.

Research Design and Methods

A cluster of 12 villages near the city of Abha, the capital of the southern region in Saudi Arabia, with a total population of 2150 (290 families) has been included in this study. The family head was interviewed about diagnosed diabetes among family members. Also, the capillary blood glucose level was measured in subjects ≥ 10 yr (the target population, n = 1419) with a reflectance meter after 2-h fasting after the main midday meal.


The 87% of the target population who responded for screening showed a prevalence of 4.6% of diabetes, which was higher among men (5.5%, age adjusted, P <0.05) than among women (3.6%). Estimates were based on 57 cases ascertained by positive history of the disease (n = 49) or blood glucose level ≥ 11.1 mM (200 mg/dl) without previous diagnosis of diabetes (n = 8). The prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance (blood glucose between 7.8 (140 mg/dl) and 11.0 mM (199 mg/dl) with no history of diabetes) was 3.7%, being higher among women than among men (P <0.01). Eighty-eight percent of the previously diagnosed cases were receiving treatment at the time of screening. However, in only 12.2% of those receiving treatment was glucose found to be controlled (level <7.8 mM [140 mg/dl]).


Diabetes frequency in this Saudi community is relatively high. There is a pressing need to promote public awareness about the disease and to improve the competency of the health-care team for achieving better control and early detection of the disease.

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