London: A new study has revealed that 1 in 4 people with diabetes worldwide live in China.
According to the study, diabetes has become a major public health crisis in China, with an annual projected cost of 360 billion RMB (nearly 35 billion British pounds) by 2030 and a new collaborative approach to care that uses registries and community support could help improve diabetes care.
The study found that China has the largest number of people with diabetes of any country in the world, and the disease has reached epidemic proportions in the adult population. In 1980, less than 1 percent of Chinese adults had diabetes, but this increased to almost 12 percent (113.9 million adults) by 2010. Latest estimates indicate that around half of Chinese adults have prediabetes, putting them at high risk of diabetes and multiple related illnesses.
The researchers said that especially alarming is that most adults with diabetes are undiagnosed (70 percent of all cases), only a quarter of people with diabetes have received treatment and that the disease is controlled in just 40 percent of those treated.
Over the past 30 years, China's standard of living and life expectancy have improved for many, but the ageing population, dietary changes, reduced physical activity, and exceptionally high rates of smoking have contributed to the diabetes epidemic. The health consequences of this epidemic threaten to overwhelm health-care systems and urgent action is needed.
In future decades, the double burden of an ageing population and rising rates of young-onset diabetes will have an enormous toll on productivity and health-care systems [Paper 1]. Series co-leader Professor Ronald Ma, from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, explained that given the increased long-term risk of complications in people with young-onset diabetes, the potential economic and health burden associated with this epidemic is very alarming. In 1993, the cost of diabetes treatment in China was 2.2 billion RMB, but the projected cost for 2030 is 360 billion RMB, which highlights the critical importance of prevention.
The study was published in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.