A comparison of indices of glucose metabolism in five black populations: data from modeling the epidemiologic transition study (METS)

Background: Globally, Africans and African Americans experience a disproportionate burden of type 2 diabetes, compared to other race and ethnic groups. The aim of the study was to examine the association of plasma glucose with indices of glucose metabolism in young adults of African origin from 5 different countries. Methods: We identified participants from the Modeling the Epidemiologic Transition Study, an international study of weight change and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in five populations of African origin: USA (US), Jamaica, Ghana, South Africa, and Seychelles. For the current study, we included 667 participants (34.8 ± 6.3 years), with measures of plasma glucose, insulin, leptin, and adiponectin, as well as moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA, minutes/day [min/day]), daily sedentary time (min/day), anthropometrics, and body composition. Results: Among the 282 men, body mass index (BMI) ranged from 22.1 to 29.6 kg/m2 in men and from 25.8 to 34.8 kg/m2 in 385 women. MVPA ranged from 26.2 to 47.1 min/day in men, and from 14.3 to 27.3 min/day in women and correlated with adiposity (BMI, waist size, and % body fat) only among US males after controlling for age. Plasma glucose ranged from 4.6 ± 0.8 mmol/L in the South African men to 5.8 mmol/L US men, while the overall prevalence for diabetes was very low, except in the US men and women (6.7 and 12 %, respectively). Using multivariate linear regression, glucose was associated with BMI, age, sex, smoking hypertension, daily sedentary time but not daily MVPA. Conclusion: Obesity, metabolic risk, and other potential determinants vary significantly between populations at differing stages of the epidemiologic transition, requiring tailored public health policies to address local population characteristics.