Diabetes hits the young

09:35, November 15, 2010      

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Many young office workers may not see diabetes as a potential danger, but recent studies have shown more and more young people leading a sedentary life are becoming diabetic, with China now having the highest number of diabetics in the world.

A total of 92.4 million people over the age of 20 in China have been diagnosed with diabetes, according to statistics released in March by the Chinese Diabetes Society.

The age of 40 used to be considered as a turning point for diabetes in China, with most people hit with the condition after their 40th birthday. The age has now decreased by 10 years, according to a report released last month by the China Medical Prevention Association and the Ministry of Health.

"Eating high-calorie food, decreasing physical exercise and high pressure from work have contributed to the rapid increase of diabetes among younger employees," Lu Juming, deputy chief editor of Chinese Journal of Diabetes and a physician treating diabetes for 30 years, told the Global Times.

Unhealthy lifestyle

Two years ago, Ke Li, was living a life typical to many office workers. He frequently worked until late at night, ate junk food and hardly did any exercise. The 6-foot-tall young man never thought he would be a candidate for diabetes.

"Who would pay attention to blood sugar at that age?" 27-year-old Ke told the Global Times. "I went to hospital because I had fatigue and always felt thirsty, even in summer, but I was soon told I had diabetes after a blood test."

Ke was not aware that his growing weight, which had hit 94 kilograms when he was diagnosed, was a warning.

Obesity, according to Lu, is a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for over 90 percent of all diabetes cases among adults.

Lu also warned that anxiety and mental stress from work and marriage can also increase the threat of diabetes.

"Stress can disturb the secretion of the pancreas and boost many hormones that can raise glucose levels," he explained.

Although Ke only learnt about this after he had diabetes, he said that the result was like a blessing in disguise, as living a healthy lifestyle is never too late.

"The biggest change for me is that now I can keep a cool and calm mind towards everything," he said.

Ke was forced to start a brand-new lifestyle - having breakfast every day, eating regularly, going to the office and home on foot (half an hour's walk) and playing badminton once a week. So far, he has managed to lower his weight to 78 kilograms.

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