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Open Access Research article

Diabetes mellitus in North West Ethiopia: a community based study

Solomon Mekonnen Abebe1*, Yemane Berhane2, Alemayehu Worku3 and Abebayehu Assefa4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Physiotherapy, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia

2 Addis Continental Institute of Public Health, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

3 School of Public Health, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

4 World Health Organization, Country Office- Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:97  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-97

Published: 30 January 2014



Diabetes mellitus is recognized as one of the emerging public health problems in developing countries. However, its magnitude has not been studied at community levels, making the provision of appropriate services difficult in such countries. Hence, this study aimed to compare the magnitude and associated risks of diabetes mellitus among urban and rural adults in northwest Ethiopia.


A cross-sectional population based survey was performed using the WHO STEPwise method on adults aged 35 years and above. A multistage cluster random sampling strategy was used to select study participants from urban and rural locations. Fasting blood glucose levels were determined using peripheral blood samples by finger puncture. Prevalence was computed with a 95% confidence interval for each residential area. Selected risk factors were assessed using logistic regression.


The prevalence of diabetes mellitus among adults aged 35 years and above was 5.1% [95% CI: 3.8, 6.4] for urban and 2.1% [95% CI: 1.2, 2.9] for rural dwellers. The majority (69%) of the identified diabetic cases were not diagnosed prior to the survey. The highest proportion (82.6%) of the undiagnosed cases was noted among the rural population and 63% among the urban population. Family history of diabetes (AOR = 5.05; 2.43, 10.51), older age (AOR = 4.86; 1.99, 11.9) and physical inactivity (AOR = 1.92; 1.06, 3.45) were significantly associated with diabetes mellitus among the urban population. Alcohol consumption (AOR = 0 .24, 0 .06, 0.99) was inversely associated with diabetes mellitus in rural areas.


The prevalence of diabetes mellitus is considerably high among the urban compared to the rural population. Diabetes is largely undiagnosed and untreated, especially in rural settings. Appropriate actions need to be taken to provide access to early diagnosis and treatment in order to reduce associated complications.