The Diabetes Epidemic in China: An Integrated Review of National Surveys

Xiuhua Shen, Anand Vaidya, Shoulin Wu, Xiang Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Objective: To review trends in the prevalence and incidence of diabetes mellitus (DM) and related risk factors in China. Methods: We searched the literature using PubMed, China Knowledge Resource Integrated Database, and China Wanfang Digital Database for large epidemiologic studies and national surveys. Results: During the past 30 years (1980-2010), 7 national diabetes mellitus surveys were conducted in China mainland, indicating that the prevalence of DM has increased 17-fold, from 0.67 to 11.6% of the population. The prevalence of impaired glucose regulation (IGR, including impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance) also increased, from 2.09 in 1994 to 27.2% in 2010. There was no national representative study of the incidence of diabetes to date; the reported incidence of type 2 diabetes during past 25 years in several cohort studies varied (2.7 to 15.8 per 1,000 person-years). Potential risk factors which could have contributed to the increasing prevalence and incidence of DM and IGR in the Chinese population include social and economic development, urbanization, dietary pattern, and Westernized lifestyle. Further, genetic studies have suggested that unique inheritable risk factors in the Chinese population may increase the risk for DM when compared to Caucasians. Conclusion: DM and IGR have become epidemic in China. Public health strategies should focus on modifying lifestyle and dietary factors, particularly among those with a susceptible genetic background. Abbreviations: BMI = body mass index DM = diabetes mellitus FBG = fasting blood glucose GWAS = genome-wide association study IGR = impaired glucose regulation IGT = impaired glucose tolerance OGTT = oral glucose tolerance test T2D = type 2 diabetes WC = waist circumference WHR = waist-hip ratio.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1119-1129
Number of pages11
JournalEndocrine Practice
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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