Health & Medicine

China's diabetes epidemic

This story is a part of

Human Needs

This story is a part of

Human Needs

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A 24-hour fast-food restaurant in Dongguan, China (image: madhatrk/Flickr)

There are few choices for Beijing diabetics -- if you look on menus in restaurants or in the markets. 

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Dr. Paul Zimmet, founder of the International Diabetes Federation says urban living is to blame for the rise in diabeties: "We are talking, in Beijing and in other large cities, about an urbanization process.  People talk about Coca-Colanization.  And the main burden of new diabetes in Asia is actually in the urban areas."

"(The national government) is aware of it."  Dr. Zimmet continues, "There is a very strong emphasis in China on physical activity and proper diet, and there is a national program.  Obviously, more resources need to be put into it.   They know they have a problem that they have to address."

On the subject of the impact of the diabetes epidemic on the developing economy in China Dr. Zimmet says, "If there is a threat that is already here, my institute in London undertakes the global impact of diabetes.  We'd estimated something like 40 million people in China now with diabetes.  That is twice the population of Australia.  By 2025, there will be 70 million people with diabetes.  This is going to have a huge impact through impaired productivity in the nation apart from the personal costs to people's health."

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