Thursday, October 22, 2009

Is The Number of Young Diabetics Rising in Asia?

Diabetes mellitus, more often referred to as diabetes, is a condition in which the body does not produce enough or properly respond to insulin. Being a hormone produced in the pancreas, insulin has the function of enabling cells to absorb glucose and turning it into energy. When a person has diabetes, the glucose will accumulate in the blood and this will eventually lead to various complications. For instance, diabetes has been identified as a risk factor for heart disease.

There is no doubt that diabetes has turned into a global problem. It is expected that the number of victims will grow from 240 million in 2007 to 380 million in 2025.

In Europe and North America, overweight and obesity have long been thought to lead to Type-2 diabetes. However, a study, published on May 27, 2009 in the Journal of American Medical Association, reported that the number of diabetics is rising in Asia affecting those who are relatively young and less likely to be struggling with obesity, unlike in the West.

Based on the figures from the International Diabetes Federation, more than 60 percent of diabetics will reside in Asia, the fastest growing region in the world. Countries with low- and middle-income will face the hardest hit. The number of diabetics will grow from 40 million to nearly 70 million in India; 39 million to 59 million in China; and 3.8 million to 7.4 million in Bangladesh.

While the trends of diabetes could be influenced from genetic makeup and cultural differences to smoking and degrees of urbanization, the most startling result was still related to body mass and age.

Despite lower obesity rate, the waistlines of Asian population keep expanding as a result of rapid economic development, changing diets and more sedentary lifestyle. Expanding waistline is considered to be harmful to diabetes. This is because fat around the abdomen stores excess energy and releases chemicals that control metabolism and use of insulin.

Although people across Asia generally have lower body mass index (BMI), which is the ratio of weight (kg) divided by the square of height (cm), they can have a similar or even higher chance of developing diabetes, according to the study.

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