Friday, March 26, 2010

Almost an Epidemic

On Wednesday The New England Journal of Medicine released a study that shows China topping the world diabetes count, with twice as many people with the disease than originally estimated.

The study said 92.4 million Chinese are afflicted with Type-2 diabetes mostly caused by high-calorie diets and sedentary lifestyles. Earlier studies had thought the number was 43.2 million, while India is projected to have 50.8 million.

Probably the most frightening part of the survey is that most of the people in China do not know they have the disease and have not gotten tested.

"This study shows that the global burden of diabetes is far larger than previously estimated," said David Whiting, a disease tracker with the Brussels-based International Diabetes Federation. "It's a wake-up call for governments and policy-makers to take action on diabetes."

However, one wonders what China will do about the situation in the immediate future, as the country will lose $558 billion of national income due to diabetes and heart disease from 2005 to 2015, the World Health Organization and the World Economic Forum said in a 2008 report.

"The aging of the population, urbanization, nutritional changes, and decreasing levels of physical activity, with a consequent epidemic of obesity, have probably contributed to the rapid increase in the diabetes burden in the Chinese population," said Yang Wenjing, head of endocrinology at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing.

So while doctors agree and are concerned it's a massive problem, what can be done?

Education, education, education.

It's very surprising how the government does not use its own media effectively to educate the public about health care, from what a healthy diet consists of to the benefits of exercise to how they can avoid catching viruses mostly from proper hygiene practices.

And now with diabetes fast becoming an epidemic, it is an ideal opportunity for the government to tell people through the media what diabetes is, what the symptoms are and to be tested that could be subsidized.

With all this education, the government can be promoting preventive medicine, thus cutting down on health care costs for everyone.

A local friend told me that even in Chinese newspapers, there are hardly any public service announcements or articles explaining to people how to maintain healthy lifestyles or tips on healthy eating or exercise.

It is in the government's best interests to have a healthy population, thus a productive population... which could result in even better GDP figures.

Seems pretty obvious that it makes sense to promote healthy lifestyles, don't you?

But it seems political rhetoric is paramount, not people's lives.

1 comment:

ks said...

there is too much carbohydrate and polished sugar in the chinese diet. again the lack of physical activity is the price we pay for when becoming more civilized. this problem is more cute in south east asians and polynesians too. may be there is a few defective genes in these races that have poor carbohydrate metabolism.