To determine the true prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), NIDDM, and associated risk factors by age and sex in an isolated native community.


A community-wide prevalence survey using a 75-g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) was undertaken in the remote native reserve of Sandy Lake, Ontario, Canada. Measurements for obesity included waist-to-hip circumference, BMI, and percentage body fat.


A total of 728 individuals were enrolled, representing a community participation rate of 72%. The overall crude prevalence of NIDDM was 17.2% (18.1% females and 16.0% males) and increased to 26.1% overall (28.0% females and 24.2% males) when age-standardized. The prevalence of IGT was higher in females compared with males (age-standardized prevalence of 19.8 vs. 7.1%, respectively). Females had a higher prevalence of obesity, IGT, and NIDDM occurring at younger ages. Measures of obesity and fasting insulin levels were significantly associated with NIDDM in the 18–49 age-group.


The prevalence rates of NIDDM in this study population are the highest reported to date in a Canadian native population and among the highest reported in the world. Females appear to be at much higher risk of developing obesity, IGT, and NIDDM and at a younger age. Due to the high prevalence rates of IGT and NIDDM in this young population, there is urgent need to develop culturally appropriate community-based public health intervention programs before the long-term complications of diabetes have a devastating effect on the residents.