A recent study done by the researchers at the Chinese Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) has shown that child diabetes rates in China are four times higher than in the US. In general, diabetes rates in China have been increasing rapidly in the past two decades. The rising diabetes rates are largely due to the lack of exercise, changing lifestyles and increasingly Western diets in China.
The joint study tracked data from 1988-2011 in over 29,000 people in more than 300 different communities in China. The study found that diabetes rates have been increasing across the country – in both rural and urban areas, as well as both high and low income areas. The number of Chinese children aged 7-17 suffering from diabetes is 1.7 million, while another 27.7 million are considered “prediabetic”. Overall, 1.9% of Chinese children have diabetes, compared with only 0.5% of US children.
The unprecedented rise in diabetes rates also raises the risk of cardiovascular diseases. At least one-third of the Chinese children in the study had high levels of at least one cardiometabolic risk factor. For Chinese individuals above the age of 40, 85% face at least one cardiovascular risk factor.
The increased cardiovascular risk will likely place a huge burden on the Chinese healthcare system. This in turn will increase the demand for medical devices and drugs catering to diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in China.