We performed oral glucose tolerance tests in 158 Ethiopian immigrants to Israel. The subjects were <30 yr of age, had lived in Israel ≤4 yr, and originated from villages in the Gondar and Ambovar regions of Ethiopia. Most had been subjected to famine conditions in Ethiopia and/or extreme hardship in Sudan before or during immigration. All were lean. They revealed a profound change in dietary habits since their arrival in Israel, with consumption of large amounts of refined carbohydrate in place of spicy stews and injura (Ethiopian pita) that had constituted dietary staples in better times in Ethiopia. According to National Diabetes Data Group criteria, 14 (8.9%) of the subjects had diabetes, and another 14 (8.9%) had impaired glucose tolerance. In addition, 13 subjects had a dramatic increase in capillary blood glucose levels (>300 mg/dl) 1 h after ingestion of 75 g glucose, despite fasting and 2-h values well within the normal range, and they complained of associated symptoms during the 1st h of testing. Eleven of 137 men and 3 of 21 women had diabetes; 7 (5.1%) of the men and 7 (33%) of the women had impaired glucose tolerance. These results indicate a high prevalence of diabetes among young adult Ethiopian immigrants of relatively short residency in Israel, for which the factors responsible warrant further investigation.

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