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China & the diseases of affluence

I found this report on the incidence of type 2 diabetes in China stunning.  An excerpt”

“As the economy has grown, ever-increasing numbers of Chinese are eating more, drinking more, driving more and sitting more. Data from makers of soft drinks suggests that sales in the more affluent parts of the country have risen fivefold in the past decade. In lower-income provinces, the increase has been even more pronounced. Cases of the disease are soaring, and show little sign of reaching a plateau. The population is ageing more quickly than in the US, per capita sugar consumption in China has risen 48% since 2001 — and that is before snacking on processed food really begins to blossom.

About 10% of adult Chinese suffer from either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, which is alarmingly close to the 11% ratio that blights the notoriously obese US.

Plans that would see China’s largest producers of high-fructose corn syrup doubling output by 2013 do not inspire confidence that the problem will soon peter out.

The difficulty posed by the 10 per cent ratio of adult diabetes sufferers in China is how quickly that unhappy landmark has been reached, and the sort of financial and budgetary recalculations that the pace of increase now demands.

A 2007 report by the Economist Intelligence Unit assumed that 4.3 % of Chinese had diabetes. From this, analysts concluded at the time that the epidemic was draining 14 % of healthcare expenditure and causing the country 0.6 % of GDP in lost productivity. Redrawn with one in ten adults afflicted, almost 1.5 % of GDP is lost and treatment costs lurch even higher.

New research by the consultancy China SignPost points out that the average per-patient cost of managing Type 2 diabetes is about $US6000 ($5695) per year in America. Using conservative numbers and assuming that China is able to treat about a quarter of its 92 million sufferers at a cost of about $US2000 a year each, that implies an annual cost for diabetes treatment alone of $US46 billion – half the country’s entire official defence budget for 2011″.

HT The Australian Business Section.

1 comment to China & the diseases of affluence

  • conrad

    No surprise really — the Northern Chinese diet is pretty awful as far as I can tell. I also wonder if at least some groups of Chinese also have a genetic disposition as well (or perhaps some groups of Caucasions have the opposite — if I look at the sign most doctors seem to use, it basically says:”if you are over 40 and any of these groups…get checked”, which is all groups except Causasions, but if you are caucasion then get checked if you are over 50.

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