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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Vanderbilt: Asia’s Diabetes Epidemic Preferentially Kills Middle-aged Women

Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in Asia and has dramatically increased the risk of premature death, especially among women and middle-aged people, a multinational study led by Vanderbilt University researchers has found.

There is an urgent need to implement diabetes management programs tailored to Asian populations, the researchers reported April 19 in JAMA Network Open, a journal of the American Medical Association.

We found that patients with diabetes are at a substantially elevated risk of premature death, and the risk associated with diabetes is much higher than that reported by most previous studies conducted in the United States and Europe,” said the study’s corresponding author, Dr. Wei Zheng, director of the Vanderbilt Epidemiology Center.

China and India have the highest diabetes burdens in the world. Throughout Asia, more than 230 million people are living with diabetes. Given the increased prevalence of obesity and rapid adoption of a Westernized lifestyle in Asia, that figure is expected to exceed 355 million by 2040.

The Vanderbilt-led research team pooled 22 prospective cohort studies in multiple countries from mainland China to Bangladesh that participate in the Asia Cohort Consortium. More than 1 million individuals were followed for an average of 12.6 years.

The study, conducted by researchers from across Asia and the United States, is the largest prospective investigation of the impact of diabetes on all-cause and cause-specific mortality among Asian populations.

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and by several participating countries.