Diabetes in Japan: Number of patients hits record 10m

By Cheryl Tay

- Last updated on GMT

Diabetes rates in Japan have shot up in recent years. ©iStock
Diabetes rates in Japan have shot up in recent years. ©iStock

Related tags Nutrition Obesity

The number of diabetics in Japan is thought to have reached a record 10 million in 2016, according to new health ministry estimates.

This rise has been linked to the country’s expanding obesity rates, as well as its ageing population.

Unhealthy eating habits and insufficient physical activity have exacerbated obesity rates, while the elderly are more likely to suffer from diabetes.

Japan’s health ministry first started releasing these estimates 20 years ago, when there were 6.9 million diabetics in the country.

From then on, it has been gathering data on diabetics every four to five years, under its annual national health and nutrition survey.

Since 1997, diabetes rates have grown consistently. Between 2012 and 2016, the number of diabetes patients in Japan increased by 500,000.

Current statistics

The latest survey was conducted among approximately 11,000 adults, of which 12.1% were suspected to have diabetes.

Of the suspected diabetics, 78.7% of the men and 74.1% of the women were receiving treatment for the disease.

According to Nikkei Asian Review​, however, despite more diabetics in Japan now undergoing the necessary treatment, there are still many who are oblivious to their condition.

Although the number of diabetics in Japan had risen between the previous survey and that in 2016, the number of potential diabetics had decreased by 1 million since 2012 to 10 million in 2016; this followed a 2007 peak of 13.2 million.

The health ministry attributed this decrease to preventative measures taken after tests for metabolic syndrome were introduced in 2008.

As with the rest of Asia, the rising cases of diabetes are creating significant opportunities for supplement and functional food manufacturers, with deveral research teams in New Zealand and Singapore​ seeking to assess the benefits of local ingredients.

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