Study finds 75 percent of Chinese adults at risk for diabetes or heart disease

July 23, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- More than three-quarters of Chinese adults have at least one risk factor for type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease, reveals new data in a long-term study done by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and published this week in Obesity. Rates of hypertension, diabetes and triglycerides are particularly high, even in the young and trim.

While the risks are highest among , 33 percent of those who aren’t overweight also have at least one cardiometabolic risk factor. Cardiometabolic risk is a cluster of factors that are good indicators of a patient’s overall likelihood of developing and . Adults at a healthy weight are less likely to be screened for these factors.

“The fact that high levels of risk were present even in non-overweight adults is highly concerning, given the societal and economic costs of these diseases,” said Penny Gordon-Larsen, Ph.D., associate professor of at Gillings School of Global Public Health and the study’s principal investigator. “Rates of risk increase dramatically with age, even in the non-overweight adults. Of even greater concern is the fact that we see these high levels of risk in individuals living across the entire country – in rural and urban areas.”

The new data come from the longest ongoing study in China, the China Health and Nutrition Survey, a joint project of UNC and the Chinese Center for Disease Control National Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety. This longitudinal study has followed more than 29,000 people in 300 communities throughout China from 1989 to 2011. Surveys were conducted in 1989, 1991, 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2011. The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health with additional funding from the Chinese Center for Disease Control.

China, home to more than 1.3 billion people, has seen unprecedented economic growth in the past two decades, accompanied by equally dramatic changes in diet, activity, inactivity and obesity. The 2009 study, which followed a randomly selected sample representing 56 percent of the Chinese population, found large increases in overweight and cardiometabolic , even in young adults.

“China has had a history of undernutrition followed by the most rapid increase in obesity and related diseases worldwide,” said Barry M. Popkin, Ph.D., W.R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of Nutrition and a co-author of the study. “Given the current picture, we can expect tremendous health burden in China in the coming years.”

Given the speed of modernization in China, these findings shed light on patterns of risk in the United States, where change has been more gradual. These findings also call attention to the cardiovascular risk in thin individuals.

Other UNC study co-authors include Shufa Du, Ph.D., research assistant professor of nutrition; Linda Adair, Ph.D., and Beth Mayer-Davis, professors of nutrition; and Amy Herring, Ph.D., professor of biostatistics.

Another study co-author is James M. Meigs, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston. The Chinese co-authors, both of Beijing, are Sheng-kai Yan, Beijing Homa Biological Engineering Co. Ltd. and department of laboratory medicine, China-Japan Friendship Hospital; and Bing Zhang, department of public health nutrition, National Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety.

Explore further: Child diabetes levels higher in China than in US, study finds

More information: … ull/oby2012152a.html

Related Stories

Child diabetes levels higher in China than in US, study finds

July 5, 2012
A study led by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found Chinese teenagers have a rate of diabetes nearly four times greater than their counterparts in the United States. The rise in the incidence ...

Junk-food diets spur inflammation more than saturated fats alone

June 28, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- A diet based on American junk food could lead to more obesity-induced inflammation than a diet high in animal fat, according to a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel ...

Study shows exercise and diet improve cholesterol in overweight and obese adults

March 19, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- According to a recent report, more than 68 percent of American adults are either overweight or obese. A study by researchers in the West Virginia University School of Medicine, Tufts University and Stanford ...

Obesity plus low vitamin D may add up to a greater risk of diabetes

July 17, 2012
The combination of obesity and vitamin D deficiency may put people at even greater risk of insulin resistance than either factor alone, according to new research from the Drexel University School of Public Health recently ...

Recommended for you

Study finds 90 percent of American men overfat

July 24, 2017
Does your waist measure more than half your height?

Are sugary drink interventions changing people's behaviour?

July 19, 2017
An evaluation of efforts designed to reduce how many sugary drinks we consume shows some success in changing younger people's habits but warns they cannot be the only way to cut consumption.

Young adult obesity: A neglected, yet essential focus to reverse the obesity epidemic

July 18, 2017
The overall burden of the U.S. obesity epidemic continues to require new thinking. Prevention of obesity in young adults, while largely ignored as a target for prevention and study, will be critical to reversing the epidemic, ...

Weight gain from early to middle adulthood may increase risk of major chronic diseases

July 18, 2017
Cumulative weight gain over the course of early and middle adulthood may increase health risks later in life, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. They found that, compared ...

Study finds children carry implicit bias towards peers who are overweight

June 23, 2017
Even children as young as 9 years old can carry a prejudice against their peers who are overweight, according to a new study led by Duke Health researchers. They might not even realize they feel this way.

Mother's obesity boosts risk for major birth defects: study

June 15, 2017
Children of obese women are more likely to be afflicted by major birth defects, including malformations of the heart and genitals, according to a study published on Thursday.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.