Massive increase in diabetes in China

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In China, diabetes is spreading rapidly, especially among the urban population

China is struggling with a real explosion of diabetes. The number of people affected has increased tenfold in the past 30 years. But only every third person affected is aware of their illness. Only every fourth patient receives appropriate therapy. In total, around 22 million people in China currently suffer from diabetes. This number corresponds approximately to the population of Australia.

More and more people with diabetes in China
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that China is currently experiencing an explosion in diabetes. In 1980, less than one percent of the adult population suffered from the metabolic disorder. In 2010 the figure was 11.6 percent, with men (12.1 percent) being affected slightly more often than women (11 percent), and experts in Germany say 9.3 percent of the population suffer from diabetes.

"These statistics suggest that type 2 diabetes or adult diabetes could raise the alarm level in the Chinese population," the AFP news agency quotes the study authors, some of whom are from China. This may also apply to diseases that are related to diabetes, such as kidney failure and cardiovascular diseases, if the country does not take countermeasures, it is said.

Rapid economic development in China as the cause of diabetes In 2010, the researchers examined the blood sugar levels of 98,658 representative Chinese adults selected for their study. They found that only 30.1 percent of those affected were aware of their illness. Only 25.8 percent received therapy, which was often insufficient. Overall, the disease occurred more frequently in urban areas than among the rural population.

Above all, the country's rapid economic development is blamed for the diabetes explosion in China. With her, prosperity came to the previously poor country and with it obesity, lack of exercise and stress, Juliana C.N. Chan from Hong Kong Prince of Wales University told the news agency.

In contrast to countries like the USA, type 2 diabetes occurs in the Chinese without a high body mass index (BMI). While the average BMI of the US population is 28.7, the researchers calculated a BMI of 23.7 for the Chinese as part of their study. "The booming economy has brought China a medical problem that could ruin the health care system," Paul Zimmet, honorary president of the International Diabetes Federation and emeritus director of the Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne told the news agency.

Many people in Germany also suffer from diabetes In western industrialized countries, diabetes has been a common disease for several years, which is affecting more and more children. The Robert Koch Institute's DEGS health study (study on adult health in Germany) showed that a third more people in Germany suffer from diabetes than ten years ago. Around seven percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 79 suffer from the metabolic disease. The proportion of those aged 70 to 79 years is particularly high at 22 percent.

Diabetes is often diagnosed late because initially there are no or only non-specific symptoms such as fatigue. The number of unreported cases could therefore be higher, experts suspect. (ag)

Image: Michael Horn /

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