Diabetes epidemic spreads to China



Economic development comes with a price – health problems. And nowhere is this more evident than in China. The economy is booming, lifestyles are rapidly changing and the health care system cannot keep up with the health problems that come with these.

The diabetes epidemic is not only restricted to the West. China is quickly catching up. According to the latest reports, 1in 10 Chinese adults (10%9 have type 2 diabetes, and another 16% of the population are in danger of developing the disease. This rate has surpassed Germany and Canada and is close to the US rate of 11%. But Chinas has a population of 1.3 billion and a staggering 92 million of these people are diabetic.

According to David Whiting, an epidemiologist at the International Diabetes Federation, who was not involved in the study

“The change is happening very rapidly both in terms of their economy and in terms of their health effects. The rate of increase is much faster than we’ve seen in Europe and in the U.S.”

And it doesn’t just stop there. Chronic diseases such as hypertension and other cardiovascular disorders are also on the rise. This phenomenon is nothing new and has been observed in populations and ethnic groups who were previously healthy and have very little genetic  predisposition to these disease. And the reason lies in the lifestyle change that comes with economic development. Some of these changes are:

Diet. The traditional Chinese diet was very healthy. The present generation prefers processed food to natural produce, food which are full of salt, sugar, and fat. Tea, the traditional drink, has been replaced by soda and other sweetened drinks.

According to Dr.  Huang Jun, a cardiovascular professor at the Jiangsu People’s Hospital in Nanjing:

As people eat more high-calorie and processed foods combined with less exercise, we see an increase of diabetes patients.”

Sedentary living. Able-bodied Chinese are leaving the farms and rural areas to seek a “better” life in the city. City life, however, means less physical exercise.

Air pollution. Big Chinese cities are among the most polluted in the world and air pollution has been closely linked to cardiovascular disease.

Stress. Life in China has become more fast-paced and more stressful.

Dr. Huang Jun continues:

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.”

The situation is not unique to China and similar health problems are becoming widespread in the Asia-Pacific region, underscoring a need for effective preventive measures in countries of emerging economies.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.
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