In each of four countries (Uruguay, Venezuela, Malaya and East Pakistan) where diets and other environmental factors differ greatly, the prevalence of diabetes as determined by impaired glucose tolerance was crudely estimated.
Since all subjects received glucose loads, rates of prevalence are much higher than those obtainable by certain less sensitive standard methods. In the tested subjects over thirty years of age the prevalence of “diabetes” (two-hour venous blood glucose levels greater than 149 mg. per 100 ml.) was 6.9 per cent in Uruguay (6.8 per cent for males and 6.9 per cent for females). The prevalence of impaired tolerance in this age group in Venezuela was 7.3 per cent (4.5 per cent in males and 9.4 per cent in females), while in Malaya the rate was only 3.5 per cent (4.5 per cent in males and 2.1 per cent in females). In East Pakistan impaired tolerance was present in only 1.5 per cent of this age group (1.2 per cent of males and 2.8 per cent of females). Comparable data are not available in the United States but with use of the technics employed abroad it was found that 17.2 per cent of volunteers in this age group in a Pennsylvania community had impaired tolerance.
In East Pakistan, 83 per cent of calories were derived from carbohydrate. Comparable figures were 77 per cent for Malaya, 62 per cent for Venezuela and 53 per cent for Uruguay. In East Pakistan, only 7 per cent of the dietary calories were derived from fat; in Malaya, fat accounted for 21 per cent of dietary calories, in Venezuela, 24 per cent, and in Uruguay, 33 per cent. In East Pakistan only 29 per cent of dietary fat was animal fat. In Malaya, Venezuela, and Uruguay, comparable figures were 30, 35 and 62 per cent, respectively.
In Uruguay, 34.4 per cent of the subjects were “obese” (30 per cent or more over “standard” weight), and in Venezuela 14.8 per cent were obese. In contrast none of the subjects from Malaya (566 persons), or East Pakistan (519 persons), was obese by these criteria.
In Venezuela and Uruguay there was an association between the prevalence of diabetes and both parity and a history of large babies.