Growing Burden of Diabetes in Sub- Saharan Africa: Contribution of Pesticides ?
Colette Sylvie Azandjeme, Michèle Bouchard, Benjamin Fayomi, Francois Djrolo, Dismand Houinato and Hélène Delisle
Affiliation: TRANSNUT, WHO Collaborating Centre on Nutrition Changes and Development, Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, PO Box 6128, Downtown Station, Montreal (Qc) Canada H3C 3J7
The diabetes burden is growing in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The low overall access to health care has been
documented to contribute to the high diabetes-related mortality. Due to economic, demographic, epidemiological and nutrition
transitions in SSA, the growing prevalence of diabetes appears to be related to obesogenic lifestyles and the intergenerational
impact of malnutrition in women of childbearing age. Both overnutrition and undernutrition have been associated
with the development of diabetes and other chronic diseases. Africans are also suspected of being genetically predisposed
to diabetes. According to existing data in developed countries, exposure to pesticides, particularly organochlorines
and metabolites, is associated with a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and its comorbidities. In African countries,
pesticide exposure levels often appear much higher than in developed countries. Furthermore, undernutrition, which
is still highly prevalent in SSA, could increase susceptibility to the adverse effects of organic pollutants. Therefore, the
growing and inadequate use of pesticides may well represent an additional risk factor for diabetes in SSA. Additionally,
high exposure to pesticides in African infants in utero and during the perinatal period may increase the intergenerational
risk of developing diabetes in SSA.
Keywords: Pesticides, africa, diabetes, developmental origins, nutrition.
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