Diabetes Now a Major Public Health Problem in China

Findings suggest that 92 million adults have diabetes and 148 million have pre-diabetes

WEDNESDAY, March 24 (HealthDay News) -- Diabetes has become a serious public health burden in China, suggesting a need for prevention and treatment approaches, according to research published in the March 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Wenying Yang, M.D., of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, and colleagues analyzed data from 46,239 adults ages 20 years and older collected in mid-2007 through mid-2008. Participants reported previous diabetes diagnoses, and were assessed for undiagnosed diabetes and pre-diabetes with an oral glucose-tolerance test following an overnight fast.

According to the researchers, the age-standardized prevalence of total diabetes -- including previously diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes -- was 9.7 percent. Prevalence among men and women was 10.6 and 8.8 percent, respectively. Prevalence of pre-diabetes was 15.5 percent (16.1 percent in men and 14.9 percent in women). This corresponds to 92.4 million adults in the country with diabetes and 148.2 million with pre-diabetes. Prevalence was higher in urban than rural residents, and it increased with higher age and weight.

"Given its large population, China may bear a higher diabetes-related burden than any other country. More troublesome is the finding that the majority of cases of diabetes are undiagnosed. These results indicate that diabetes has become a major public health challenge in China and underscore the need for national strategies aimed at the prevention, detection, and treatment of diabetes in the general Chinese population," the authors write.

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Eric Metcalf

Eric Metcalf

Published on March 24, 2010

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