Diabetes Forecast

Diabetes Rates Rise in Asia

By Tracey Neithercott , ,

Type 2 diabetes is an increasing epidemic in Asia, says a study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association. After analyzing hundreds of articles and data on type 2 diabetes published between 1980 and this year, the researchers found that rates have been rapidly rising. But unlike diagnoses in the West, which tend to occur in older adults with high body mass indexes (BMIs), most cases in Asia are in young to middle-aged adults who aren't necessarily overweight.

The reason for the weight disparity between Asians and whites with diabetes? Though obesity rates aren't high in Asia, the authors suggest that recent economic booms throughout the region have led to worsening diets and more sedentary lifestyles. The study found that the westernized way of life is particularly harmful to Asians, who are more prone to abdominal fat, a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

High rates of gestational diabetes in Asian women—whose risk for the disease is two to three times that of their white counterparts—could be the culprit behind the early age of diabetes onset, say the study's authors. A mother's gestational diabetes ups a child's risk of diabetes and, when combined with a low birth weight and over-nutrition later in life, could be a contributing factor to the epidemic.

Various other aspects—from genetics and smoking to urbanization and high levels of stress—may also be contributors to the upsurge of diabetes cases.

Stopping the swelling numbers is critical, say the researchers. According to International Diabetes Federation projections, by 2025 more than 60 percent of all diabetes cases will come from Asia, the world's most populated region. The same calculation says India's type 2 population will grow from about 40 million to nearly 70 million between 2007 and 2025. China's numbers will jump from 39 million to 59 million. And the total number of people in Asia with type 2 diabetes will increase by 66 million.

Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, May 27, 2009



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