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    DIABETES: a growing problem
Ye Jun
2005-11-25 08:20

Diabetes is a growing global problem and China is doing its bit for the prevention of this debilitating and often fatal disease.

Li Guangwei, director at the Internal Secretion Department, Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital, revealed that the hospital has been co-operating with the American Centres for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) in a follow-up study of the role of lifestyle intervention in the prevention of diabetes.

The Chinese study is especially important in the sense that China is a developing country, with people investigated not being particularly overweight, and occurrences more frequent within actual communities.

The American CDC financed Li's study because of its potential to best show the long-term after-effects of lifestyle intervention. Lifestyle intervention concentrates on the diet and physical exercise.

The medical world has come to the common conclusion that to curb diabetes, prevention is better than treatment, and that lifestyle intervention is better than medical intervention.

"Although the WHO has not had sufficient evidence to promote it worldwide, it is found that while medical intervention reduces the chance of getting diabetes by 30 per cent, lifestyle intervention can reduce the chance among high-risk groups by as much as 58 per cent."

The number of people with diabetes in China is not yet as high as in more developed countries such as Singapore, Japan and the United States. But while those countries have taken measures to stop the worsening of the problem, in China, the number is still on the increase. In the past three years, the number of diabetes patients in China has tripled. In places like Beijing and Shanghai, the rate of diabetes patients is approaching that of developed countries.

China now has 40 million diabetes patients. Meanwhile, there are another 40 million people who belong to high-risk groups. Every year from 5-10 per cent of these people within high-risk groups develop diabetes.

"Presently, diabetes can't be cured," said Li.

Relatively young diabetes sufferers can control their blood sugar levels to a very healthy standard by good dieting and physical exercises. But for most other sufferers, who cannot do much about their ageing and obesity, two important factors for contracting diabetes, it is troubling, sometimes fatal, life-long illness.

The side effect of Chinese food culture is that people generally eat too much, and a lot of the food is not too healthy. Li and his team wish to take the opportunity of external co-operation to promote diabetes prevention in China.

(China Daily 11/25/2005 page8)


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