During study of diabetes prevalence in six rural Tanzanian communities, a repeat oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) was carried out in 514 subjects ≥ 15 yr of age within 1 wk of an initial 75-g OGTT. In 498 subjects, blood glucose was measured 2 h after the glucose load on both occasions, and in 175 subjects, fasting blood glucose measurement was also repeated. Of the 498 subjects, 245 had normal glucose tolerance in the first test and were selected at random for further testing; 223 subjects had impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), and 30 had diabetic values. Diabetes and IGT were diagnosed on the basis of the 2-h blood glucose values. In the second test, 241 (98.4%) of the 245 subjects with normal tolerance continued in this category and 4 (1.6%) showed IGT. Of the 223 with IGT in the first test, 171 (76.2%) reverted to normal on the second test, 7 (3.1%) had diabetic values, and 45 (20.2%) persisted with IGT. Of the 30 subjects diagnosed as diabetic in the first test, 8 (26.7%) remained with diabetic values, 11 (36.7%) had IGT, and 11 (36.7%) were normal. Based on the second test, the population-prevalence rates of diabetes and IGT would have been 0.5 and 3.3% vs. 1 and 7.6% based on the first test. There was a significant downward trend in the mean 2-h blood glucose values in all three diagnostic groups. Regression toward the mean could not account for the downward shift in blood glucose values observed on retesting. It is postulated that a phenomenon occurred similar to the acclimatizing reflex observed in measurement of blood pressure. Therefore, single 2-h postload values may be inadequate for the accurate assessment of IGT and diabetes-prevalence rates within communities, particularly those unused to blood sampling. Because of the instability of the category of IGT, it may be advisable to discontinue use of this term or to restrict the term to those who show impaired tolerance on more than one occasion.

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