About 10 million adults in Japan are strongly suspected of having diabetes, a 2016 survey by the health ministry showed Thursday.

The figure, up 500,000 from the previous survey in 2012, has been on an upward trend since 1997, when suspected diabetics totaled 6.9 million.

The ministry conducts the survey every four to five years, and the 1997 survey results are the oldest available.

A level of 10 million probable cases, however, represents an improvement from the peak of 13.2 million logged in 2007.

The drop probably reflects the “preventive effects” of health guidance and checkups for metabolic syndrome launched in fiscal 2008, a ministry official said.

In the latest survey, conducted in October and November 2016, the health ministry diagnosed diabetes or prediabetes by checking the blood sugar and clinical records of some 11,000 adults from about 24,000 households picked at random.

Based on the 2016 demographic forecast, the ministry estimated that there were 10 million suspected diabetics nationwide after finding that 12.1 percent of the respondents were patients. The ratios among men and women stood at 16.3 percent 9.3 percent, respectively.

By age group, the prevalence rates for men were 23.2 percent for those 70 or older, 21.8 percent for those in their 60s, 12.6 percent for those in their 50s, and 3.8 percent for those in their 40s.

The rates for women were 16.8 percent for those 70 or older, 12.0 percent for those in their 60s, 6.1 percent for those in their 50s, and 1.8 percent for those in their 40s.

The treatment rates meanwhile stood at 78.7 percent for male diabetics and 74.1 percent for female diabetics, with both figures trending upward.

A separate survey on obesity covering about 20,000 adults meanwhile found that about 30 percent of men and 20 percent of women were obese, the ministry said. Both figures were almost unchanged from the past 10 years.

It also found that the average number of steps walked per day stood at 6,984 for men and 6,029 for women, also roughly the same.

As for alcohol consumption, the survey found that the ratio of men who drink had leveled off at 14.6 percent and the ratio for women had inched up to 9.1 percent.

It also found that 30.2 percent of men and 8.2 percent of women smoke, with both trends declining.

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