, Volume 18, Issue 5, pp 369–374 | Cite as

Diabetes mellitus in urban and rural communities in Papua New Guinea

Studies of prevalence and plasma insulin
  • F. I. R. Martin
  • G. B. Wyatt
  • A. R. Griew
  • Mary Haurahelia
  • Linda Higginbotham


Oral glucose tolerance tests (75 g) in 185 urban residents of Port Moresby and 105 ethnically similar rural villagers showed that 15.8% of urban residents had diabetes mellitus (two hour plasma glucose > 11.0 mmol/l and a total of 22% were glucose intolerant (plasma glucose > 9.0 mmol/l), compared with 1.0% and 5.5% in rural people. — Urban men and women were significantly fatter than rural people, but within each population glucose tolerance was not significantly related to weight or to age, although the numbers of old people studied were small. Compared to Australians the Papua New Guinea subjects had a higher fasting plasma insulin (16.5 vs 10.7 μU/ ml, p = < 0.05); independent of weight fasting plasma insulin was significantly higher in the rural than urban people studied. After the glucose load, plasma insulin and glucose levels were positively correlated in rural people. In contrast, for the urban group the relation best fitted a quadratic function, with decline in plasma insulin at high levels of glucose. — The prevalence of diabetes in urbanised Melanesians in Papua New Guinea appears similar to other South Pacific countries.

Key words

Diabetes mellitus epidemiology Melanesians Papua New Guinea urban-rural insulin secretion fasting hyperinsulinaemia 


  1. 1.
    Kiki A M (1968) Ten thousand years in a life time. Cheshire, MelbourneGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Zimmet P, Taft, Guinea A, Guthrie W, Thoma K (1977) The high prevalence of diabetes mellitus on a Central Pacific Island. Diabetologia 13: 111–115Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Zimmet P, Seluka A, Collins J, Currie P, Wicking J, de Boer W (1977) Diabetes mellitus in an urbanized isolated Polynesian population. The Funafuti survey. Diabetes 26: 1101–1108Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Reed D, Labarthe D, Stallones R, Brady J (1973) Epidemiologic studies of serum glucose levels among Micronesians. Diabetes 22: 129–136Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Prior I A M, Beaglehole R, Davidson F, Salmon C E (1978) The relationship of diabetes, blood lipids and uric acid levels in Polynesians. Adv Metab Disord 9: 241–261Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    World Health Organisation (1974) Twenty-fourth annual report. Western Pacific Regional Office, Manila, p 54–55Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Price A V G, Tulloch J A (1966) Diabetes mellitus in Papua and New Guinea. Med J Aust 2: 645–648Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Henry R J, Cannon D C, Winkleman J W (eds) (1974) Clinical chemistry. Principles and technics, 2nd ed. Harper and Row, New York, p 1285–1289Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Martin F I R, Russell J (1974) A simple method for determining plasma insulin in the presence of endogenous insulin antibodies. Diabetologia 10: 93–96Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Gupta O P, Joshi M H, Dave S K (1978) Prevalence of diabetes in India. Adv Metab Disord 9: 147–165Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Medalie J H, Herman J B, Goldbourt U, Papier C M (1978) Variations in incidence of diabetes amount 10,000 adult Israeli males and factors relating to development. Adv Metab Disord 9: 93–110Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Kim E J, Kim K S, Lee T H, Kim D Y (1976) Diabetes mellitus in Asia. In: Baba S, Goto Y, Fuki I (eds) The incidence of diabetes mellitus in urban and rural populations in Korea. Excerpta Med., Amsterdam, p 41–44Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Alford F P, Kiss Z S, Martin F I R, Pearson M J, Yeomans N D, Willis M F (1970) Type I Diabetes in New Guinea studies on insulin release and insulin sensitivity. Aust N Z J Med 19: 111–157Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Martin F I R (1978) The characteristics of clinical diabetes mellitus in Papua New Guinea. Papua New Guinea Med J 21: 317–324Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Zimmet P, Whitehouse S, Alford F, Chisholm D (1978) The relationship of insulin response to a glucose stimulus over a wide range of glucose tolerance. Diabetologia 15: 23–28Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Bagdade J D, Bierman E L, Porte D (1967) The significance of basal insulin levels in the evaluation of the insulin response to glucose in diabetic and non-diabetic subjects. J Clin Invest 46: 1549–59Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Florey C D (1978) Blood sugar and serum insulin levels in Jamaica, West Indies. Adv Metab Disord 9: 65–91Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Savage P J, Dippe S E, Bennett P H, Gorden P, Roth J, Rushforth N B, Miller M (1975) Hyperinsulinemia and hypoinsulinemia. Insulin responses to oral carbohydrate over a wide spectrum of glucose tolerance. Diabetes 24: 362–368Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Neel J V (1962) Diabetes mellitus — A “thrifty” genotype rendered detrimental by progress? Am J Hum Genet 14: 353–362Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. I. R. Martin
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • G. B. Wyatt
    • 1
  • A. R. Griew
    • 1
  • Mary Haurahelia
    • 1
  • Linda Higginbotham
    • 2
  1. 1.Departments of Community Medicine and Clinical ScienceUniversity of Papua New GuineaPapua New Guinea
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of Melbourne, Royal Melbourne HospitalMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of EndocrinologyRoyal Melbourne HospitalMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations