China’s Diabetes Population Reaches 130 Million, Many Are Young

By Shawn Lin
Shawn Lin
Shawn Lin
Shawn Lin is a Chinese expatriate living in New Zealand. He has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2009, with a focus on China-related topics.
December 4, 2021 Updated: December 4, 2021

The number of people with diabetes in China is estimated to be 10 percent of the country’s population. More notably, many teenagers and children have been diagnosed with the disease in recent years.

About 129.8 million Chinese citizens live with diabetes—70.4 million males and 59.4 million females. The prevalence of diabetes and prediabetes in adults is 12.8 percent and 35.2 percent respectively. Approximately 834,000 people die from complications caused by diabetes in China every year, according to China’s state-run media Xinhua News.

There are two main forms of diabetes: type I and type II.

The causes of type I diabetes are unknown, but genetic factors are believed to play a role. These patients produce little or no insulin and need daily insulin injections to live.

Type II diabetes is related to lifestyle and diet. Obesity and physical inactivity are top risk factors for developing this form of the disease.

Type I diabetes makes up about 10 percent of total diabetes cases, while type II diabetes covers the other 90 percent.

People generally assume that diabetes is exclusive to middle-aged and elderly people. However, more and more children in China have developed the disorder, who are nicknamed “sugar kids.”

In May last year, the Yangxian Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital in Shaanxi Province, treated the youngest “sugar kid” identified in China so far, a three-year-old named Nuo Nuo.

On Nov. 14, World Diabetes Day, Chinese state media revealed that in China, children now account for 5 percent of all diabetic patients, and the number is increasing by nearly 10 percent each year. Based on the 5 percent figure, there are currently about 6.49 million children with diabetes in China, a staggering number.

In the past, diabetes in children and teenagers was mainly type I. However, the prevalence of type II has gradually increased with the increase in adolescent obesity.

“According to doctors, the typical image of a ‘sugar kid’ is like this: he doesn’t like sports; he’s burdened with study-related stress, he spends all his time at his study desk; carbonated drinks and fast food are his staple food,” state-run media People’s Daily said in a Nov. 14 article.

Orthodox medicine considers diabetes a lifelong disease with no cure. Treatment plans include a combination of healthy diet, exercise, and medication, to control blood sugar levels.

Shawn Lin
Shawn Lin is a Chinese expatriate living in New Zealand. He has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2009, with a focus on China-related topics.