‘Lifestyle’ diseases new threat to Asia


Asia-Pacific countries face serious challenges from “lifestyle” diseases and aging populations even as they overcome more traditional illnesses, the World Health Organization’s regional director said Monday.

Western Pacific WHO chief Shin Young-soo said such ailments, often arising from a change in diets and less exercise, are rising sharply in Asian nations.

He said recent studies show that as many as 12 percent of Chinese adults have diabetes, while as many as 50 percent had a “pre-diabetes” condition, meaning they are on the borderline of developing the illness.

This is a huge jump from the estimated 3-4 percent of diabetics in China’s adult population in the 1990s.

About 10 percent of adults in countries like South Korea, Japan and even Vietnam also have diabetes, Shin told reporters at a WHO regional meeting in the Philippine capital.

“It is because of the big change in our diets in the last 30-40 years’ time. There is also a very interesting observation that Asian people . . . tend to have more diabetes than Western people,” he said.