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Type 2 diabetes on the rise in Asia

In recent decades, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in Asian populations has increased markedly.

Type 2 diabetes on the rise in Asia

In recent decades, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in Asian populations has increased markedly.

The findings indicate that as of 2007, over 110 million people in Asia were living with diabetes, including a disproportionate number of cases among young and middle-age individuals. At this rate, the researchers estimate that the total number of affected people may climb to about 180 million by 2025.

Although the increase in diabetes coincides with rising rates of overweight and obesity, many affected individuals are not technically overweight or obese. They are however metabolically obese, defined as having a normal body weight, but increased abdominal obesity.

Type 2 diabetes is an increasing epidemic in Asia, characterised by rapid rates of increase over short periods and onset at a relatively young age and low body mass index. To examine the epidemiology, risk factors, and pathology of type 2 diabetes in Asia, researchers from China conducted a search of the US government database MEDLINE for relevant studies. Only studies published between January 1980 and March 2009 were included in the review and studies that looked solely at type 1 diabetes were excluded.

The prevalence of type 2 diabetes has risen from 1 percent in 1980 to 5.5 percent in 2001 in China. It rose from 3 percent in the 1970s to 12 percent in 2000 among Indian adults and from 2.3 percent to 6.8 percent in rural Bangladesh.

The researchers also found evidence that the diabetes epidemic is being fueled, in part, by diabetes begetting diabetes. They explain that an elevated risk of gestational diabetes, or diabetes that develops during pregnancy, coupled with poor fetal nutrition and overnutrition later in life may be a contributing factor in some populations. With the young age of onset and the long disease duration that follows, the Asian diabetic population is at high risk for heart and kidney complications.

An integrated strategy combining population-wide preventive policies, early detection, and multidisciplinary care programs may reduce the risk of diabetes and associated complications in the general population and in high-risk individuals.

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