Diabetes continuing to spike in China

NEW YORK Wed Apr 4, 2012 4:23pm EDT

Related Topics

Photo

Ebola epidemic

Quarantines and isolation units imposed to stop the spread of the worst Ebola outbreak in history.  Slideshow 

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The more common type of diabetes in China grew by 30 percent in just seven years, according to a new survey of thousands of Shanghai residents.

The curse of affluence appears to be affecting China as it has many other developing countries.

"There is a certainly a pattern that we're seeing over and over again," said Dr. Jeffrey Koplan, the vice president for global health at Emory University.

People with type 2 diabetes have trouble processing sugar in their blood, but do not generally require insulin to manage the condition. As countries become more wealthy, lifestyle factors associated with type 2 diabetes -- such as weight gain, less healthy diets and less physical activity -- tend to become more common.

"Unlike the gradual transition in most Western countries, these changes in China have occurred over a very short time," the researchers, led by Dr. Rui Li at the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, write in their study in the journal Diabetes Care.

The research team interviewed more than 12,000 people in 2002 and 2003. They asked whether the participants had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and they screened people for diabetes who had not been diagnosed before.

They found that 9.7 percent of people had diabetes.

The researchers surveyed about 7,400 people again in 2009, and found that 12.6 percent of people had the disease.

"That's a remarkable increase in seven years," Koplan told Reuters Health.

The spike was even more dramatic among the rural residents in the study -- going from 6.1 percent to 9.8 percent, a 60 percent increase.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 8.3 percent of Americans have diabetes.

REASONS FOR INCREASE UNCLEAR

In 2010 China surged to the head of the pack in terms of countries with the most diabetic residents, with 92 million in 2010 (see Reuters Health report of March 24, 2010).

The study did not pinpoint the causes of the rise in diabetes, and Koplan said he could only speculate on what's to blame.

He said that it's been well documented that people are getting wealthier and heavier in China and diets are including more saturated fat.

He also said people are becoming more dependent on cars and less inclined to walk or ride a bike.

"All these factors would help contribute to having an increased prevalence in type 2 diabetes," said Koplan, who did not participate in the research.

The authors write in their study that an aging population in China likely explains some of their findings.

Older people are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and the researchers note that 20 percent of Shanghai residents are over age 60, with that proportion increasing.

Koplan said many countries have programs to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent type 2 diabetes, but as of yet there's "not a proven documented intervention that can reverse this epidemic of obesity and epidemic of type 2 diabetes."

SOURCE: bit.ly/Hh4wij Diabetes Care, online March 19, 2012.

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
Samantha99 wrote:
I totally agree on this..we can control by getting on healthy diet and substitute high calories food by low calorie and fat food.. itsĀ easier to say than done….Even though, im a nutritionist i still sometimes fail to keep my weight under control and stick to healthy diet. However we have found ways and means to over come this, like getting on organic natural sweetener to substitute sugar, this really works well and supports your efforts in controlling weight, there are few brands in the market, but i think Zyvia is the only organic brand. We have been taking it for quite sometime now. Its pretty good

Apr 05, 2012 7:54am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.