China, now the largest diabetic population in the world

By Candy Lashkari

With one in ten adults in China being diagnosed with diabetes the largest population of the world is also the largest diabetic population in the world. A report published by New England Journal of Medicine reported that 92 million people in China were diabetic. This means China has overtaken India which had a 50 million strong diabetic population to date.

David Whiting, an epidemiologist with the International Diabetes Federation said, "For every person in the world with HIV there are three people in China with diabetes". He was not involved with the research. "The rate of increase is much faster than we've seen in Europe and in the U.S."

The US rate of growth of the diabetic population is 11% but in China it is being estimated at 16%. A far higher figure than previously believed. The economic boom is being seen as the main result for the fast propulsion of the lifestyle disease. People living in towns and having greater wealth are more at risk than those living in rural areas.

"As people eat more high-calorie and processed foods combined with less exercise, we see an increase of diabetes patients," said Huang Jun, a cardiovascular professor at the Jiangsu People's Hospital in Nanjing, capital of northern China's Jiangsu province. "Whereas 20 years ago, people took naps during the work week, people are now faced with the stress of making more money to support a family and a buy a house."

From the survey conducted on 46,239 adults of more than 20 years of age from 14 provinces these are the findings that the researchers estimated. About 50 million men and 42 million women have diabetes and in most cases it is as yet undiagnosed. There are also 150 million on their way to getting diabetes and are currently in the pre-diabetic stage.

"These data really show diabetes has become a major epidemic in China," Dr. Jiang He, of Tulane University in New Orleans. The International Diabetes Foundation had projected last year that China could expect to have 435 million diabetics by 2030. Under the new findings of the survey these figures would have to be modified to allow a much higher estimate.

The survey methodology involved giving the participants the glucose tolerance test after an overnight fast and then being given a sugar solution to swallow. In diabetes the body is unable to digest the sugar in the body present as glucose. So the higher the level of glucose in the blood the more likely the person is to be diabetic.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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