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Rates of diabetes increased 15-fold in Canadians of Chinese origin in 10 years


Despite lower rates of obesity, Chinese Canadians are at a much higher risk of being diagnosed with diabetes. The incidence of diabetes increased 15-fold between 1996 and 2005 among Canadians with Chinese origins, while it increased by only 24 per cent in those with European origins, according to a new study by researchers at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES).

“We saw this increase even when we accounted for differences in age, weight and socioeconomic status for the Chinese population. The cause is unknown, but it may be due to Chinese-Canadians increasingly adopting unhealthy lifestyle habits,” says Baiju Shah, lead author and scientist at ICES.

The cohort study found:

  • Between 1996 and 2005, the annual rate of incident (i.e., new diagnoses of) diabetes increased 24 per cent in Ontarians of European origin, but it increased 15-fold in those of Chinese origin.
  • By 2005, the age/sex standardized diabetes incidence for the Chinese population was more than double that of the European population (19.6 versus 9.7 per 1,000 person-years).

 “People with Chinese origins now join those from other non-European ethnic groups as being identified as a population at high risk for diabetes. Specific prevention strategies may be needed to combat obesity and diabetes for Chinese-Canadians,” says Shah.

The study, “Rapid increase in diabetes incidence among Chinese Canadians between 1996 and 2005,” was published today in Diabetes Care.

Authors: Avreet Alangh, Maria Chiu and Baiju Shah.

ICES is an independent, non-profit organization that uses population-based health information to produceknowledge on a broad range of healthcare issues. Our unbiased evidence provides measures of health system performance, a clearer understanding of the shifting healthcare needs of Ontarians, and a stimulus for discussion of practical solutions to optimize scarce resources. ICES knowledge is highly regarded in Canada and abroad, and is widely used by government, hospitals, planners, and practitioners to make decisions about care delivery and to develop policy.

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