It’s no secret that obesity, and its twin sister disease of diabetes, have become epidemics of every modernizing country. I work in a family medicine clinic in China and am now witnessing firsthand the expanding waistlines of Chinese people, as they quickly adopt the “Western” diet. Unfortunately, diabetes is already a scourge here as well. But how does it compare to the US, or to other countries?
You can find out very quickly thanks to a fascinating, interactive graph from the Washington Post, which reviews every major country’s diabetes and obesity rates. They got the data from the Global Burden of Metabolic Risk Factors of Chronic Diseases Collaborating Group, which published a series of articles in the Lancet journal. It’s a fascinating chart. For example:
- Diabetes rates: in 1980 for US men, 6.0%; for Chinese men, 10%. In 2008, for US men: 12.6%, for Chinese men, 9.6%. In the US, there’s a steady progression; in China, the numbers actually improved a while but again are climbing. I’m actually surprised that the percentages in China now are so close already to those in America; awareness of the disease here is much less than in the US. It’s believed that a large percentage of diabetics in China are not yet aware they have the disease.
- Obesity rates: in 1980, in the US; in 2008 the average BMI for men is 28.5, for women is 28.3. In 2008, for US men is 25.5, women 25.0%. For China, in 1980 for men, 21.6, women 21.9; in 2008, both are 22.9. (a BMI 25-30 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese).
With the obesity rates, again the trend in the US is a very scary climb upwards; in China, the rate is rising much slower.
How does your country fare? Click here and find out. You can also go straight to the interactive graphs from the Collaboration Group. it takes a while to load, but their data is much richer and also includes blood pressure and cholesterol.
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