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Diabetes is Epidemic in the Developing World


Rapid economic and social expansion has led to unwanted and heretofore unknown health consequences in the Developing World. For example, the first epidemiological investigation of diabetes in China in 1980 showed a disease prevalence of 1%. By 2009 however that prevalence had grown to 10% and diabetes has since become the third largest chronic disease in China after cancer and cardiovascular pathologies.


92.4 million Chinese adults currently have diabetes and 148.2 million may be classified as pre-diabetic. These numbers will increase substantially as populations continue to embrace the fundamental changes that accompany economic development and Western-style urbanization.  According to the Chinese Diabetes Society, the incidence of diabetes will grow substantially over the next 10-20 years to a point where approximately 50 million Chinese with undiagnosed diabetes will begin seeking medical care.


In light of this epidemic, studies show that diabetes care in East Asia has considerable room for improvement. For example, a survey of type 2 diabetic patients in 50 medical centers found that only 32.1% had reached acceptable HbA1c levels (<7%). This can be compared with data from the U.S. which showed that 50.1% had HbA1c levels below 7%. The problem is further complicated by genetics.  East Asian peoples have been repeatedly shown to have considerably less physiological tolerance to excess abdominal adipose tissue than do other groupings.


Both popular news sources and medical journals unanimously speak to the current and exceptionally strong need for supplemental medical education for both physicians and the lay population targeting the identification and control of this burgeoning threat to public health, much of which can be controlled by basic education and behavioral modification 


Unfortunately, international assessment of regional educational programs now in place have shown them to be insufficient, limited in scope, and not regionally targeted nor adequately updated.

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