Diabetes Among Asians

It is well known that the western diet, or a diet consisting of foods high in fat and high in carbohydrates as well as sugar, lead to obesity.  Obesity is one of the conditions found to have been linked with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes). On the other hand, Asians are known to have a culture of eating healthy and well-balanced diets. However, despite this trend, some experts say that the Asian population is particularly susceptible to having diabetes just like any other race. Just recently, many fast food chains have been establishing their own stores in popular Asian cities and this practice has led to more and more Asians eating unhealthy and sugar laden foods just like their western counterparts. With the rise of the middle class among Asians, many of them have considered changing their traditionally healthy diets rich in fiber and antioxidants with these foods high in saturated fat and calories. People from the Asian middle class society have ignored the usual meals prepared at home and are now more comfortable in eating at food chains that offer substandard and unhealthy meals. Because of this, the obesity rate among Asians has been on the rise recently. Consequently, diabetes has also been more common among people from the Asian region.

Aside from diet, the modern lifestyle of Asians has also become more sedentary as compared to how they usually did things before. Young people, especially from technologically advanced countries such as South Korea, have become more interested in playing games on computers and sitting the whole day instead of going out and engaging in exercise.

According to a research published in Lancet (a medical journal with specialty in studies concerning oncology, neurology and infectious diseases) North Americans are not the only ones at high risk of diabetes. This condition has also become rampant among Asian countries and the trend seems to be getting worse. Doctors from the Catholic University of Korea in Seoul estimated that by 2025, diabetes cases among Asians would surge to 330 million from only 194 million in 2003. Research reveals that younger people are more at risk of developing diabetes. Their conditions become worse as they grow older; most die earlier compared to patients from other developed countries. High mortality rates among younger Asian populations may have a significant negative impact on their economy since there would be no one to support the aging population in these countries.

Diabetes is not traditionally considered a threat among Asians because most Asian diabetics do not fall under the overweight or obese category upon calculating their BMIs. This is one of the reasons why diabetes among these people often goes undetected or is already diagnosed at a later and more serious stage of the disease. However, doctors agree that instead of focusing on BMI, physicians should also look at the midsection fat and be especially wary about the amount of visceral fat present in the body as this may be more helpful in evaluating diabetes risk among Asians.


Asian Diabetes Association. (2002–2011). Huge Rise in Asian Diabetes Rates [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.asiandiabetes.org/category/asian-diabetes-statistics/.

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