Nearly one in 10 adults in China has diabetes and most Type 2 cases remain undiagnosed, according to research published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The study found diabetes to be more endemic than previously thought with figures suggesting China has more than 92 million people diagnosed with the condition and that nearly 150 million more were showing early symptoms.
The authors of the study say the increase can be attributed to rapid economic growth and urbanisation that has affected public health by changing diets and encouraging more sedentary lifestyles.
The authorities in Beijing are concerned as this increase represents a major public health problem due to the fact that diabetes is often a major cause of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.
Change in lifestyle
"In the last 10 years, with the country's economy expanding quickly and people's standard of living improving, people's lifestyles have changed," said Yan Wenying, one of the study's 20 authors.
"China's economic development has gone from a situation of not being able to eat enough, of poverty, to having enough food and warm clothes, and doing much less exercise."