Background: The diabetes epidemic in China imposes an increasing burden on the health care system and the economy. We derived prospective diabetes prevalence rates in China until 2016 from a systematic review of the published literature in the period 1987-2007. The results could help to guide resources of the Chinese health care system in order to address the diabetes epidemic.
Methods: We selected articles published in the English/Chinese languages from MEDLINE and the China Wanfang Digital Database using the keywords "China", "diabetes mellitus", "prevalence", and "epidemiology" in order to estimate the current diabetes prevalence in China. For projecting future prevalence rates, we considered the population growth, and assumed that China's diabetes prevalence in first tier cities in 2016 would equal Hong Kong's diabetes prevalence in 2007.
Results: The number of Chinese adults with diabetes is projected to rise from 53.1 million in 2009 to 76.1 million in 2016. The estimated diabetes prevalence rate in China in 2009 was 3.9% (urban 5.2%, rural 2.9%) and is projected to increase to 5.4% (urban 6.9%, rural 3.8%) in 2016, corresponding to an annual consolidated aggregate growth rate of 4.6%.
Conclusion: We estimate a considerably higher diabetes prevalence in the adult Chinese population than that reported in previous studies. The diabetes prevalence will continue to rise in the future, which points to the importance of increasing awareness and better diagnosis of diabetes in China.
Keywords: China; Chinese; diabetes; epidemic; prevalence; systematic review.