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India, China diabetes cases exploding

WELLINGTON -- India and China are leading a global explosion in the diabetes epidemic, with the numbers of sufferers worldwide expected to grow more than 50 percent by 2025, a leading researcher said Tuesday.

Paul Zimmet, a pioneering diabetes researcher and foundation director of the International Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, says the number of people with type two diabetes is expected to increase from 250 million last year to 380 million by 2025.

“But it already appears those estimates may be an under-estimate,” Zimmet said on the sidelines of the International Diabetes Federation’s western Pacific region congress in the New Zealand capital Wellington.

“People look at you incredulously, but it’s a galloping epidemic.”

Type two diabetes, which usually takes hold in adulthood, can cause conditions ranging from kidney failure, to blindness and heart disease and complications can lead to death. The liver does not produce enough insulin or becomes resistant to insulin, which controls blood sugar levels. The most common cause of type two diabetes is obesity caused by poor diet and a lack of exercise.

The disease has become rampant in both developed and developing countries as a result of traditional diets being abandoned for processed and junk foods and people getting less exercise. Rapid modernization in Asia means about two-thirds of all cases worldwide are found in the Asia-Pacific region, Zimmet said.

“India and China are places where diabetes is positively exploding,” he said. China, where more than 40 million people have type two diabetes or its precursor, appears to be taking the problem seriously. “It has become a national health priority in China,” he said.

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