Incidence of type 2 diabetes in Japan: a systematic review and meta-analysis

PLoS One. 2013 Sep 6;8(9):e74699. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074699. eCollection 2013.


Background: The definition of incident type 2 diabetes varies across studies; hence, the actual incidence of type 2 diabetes in Japan is unclear. Here, we reviewed the various definitions of incident type 2 diabetes used in previous epidemiologic studies and estimated the diabetes incidence rate in Japan.

Methods: We searched for related literature in the MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Ichushi databases through September 2012. Two reviewers selected studies that evaluated incident type 2 diabetes in the Japanese population.

Results: From 1824 relevant articles, we included 33 studies with 386,803 participants. The follow-up period ranged from 2.3 to 14 years and the studies were initiated between 1980 and 2003. The random-effects model indicated that the pooled incidence rate of diabetes was 8.8 (95% confidence interval, 7.4-10.4) per 1000 person-years. We observed a high degree of heterogeneity in the results (I(2) = 99.2%; p < 0.001), with incidence rates ranging from 2.3 to 52.6 per 1000 person-years. Three studies based their definition of incident type 2 diabetes on self-reports only, 10 on laboratory data only, and 20 on self-reports and laboratory data. Compared with studies defining diabetes using laboratory data (n = 30; pooled incidence rate = 9.6; 95% confidence interval = 8.3-11.1), studies based on self-reports alone tended to show a lower incidence rate (n = 3; pooled incidence rate = 4.0; 95% confidence interval = 3.2-5.0; p for interaction < 0.001). However, stratified analyses could not entirely explain the heterogeneity in the results.

Conclusions: Our systematic review and meta-analysis indicated the presence of a high degree of heterogeneity, which suggests that there is a considerable amount of uncertainty regarding the incidence of type 2 diabetes in Japan. They also suggested that laboratory data may be important for the accurate estimation of the incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Models, Statistical
  • Poisson Distribution

Grant support

This work was based on the Program to Improve Preventive Medicine by Analysis of Cohort Data Linked to Medical Records supported by Funds for integrated promotion of social system reform and research and development, from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. This work was also funded by Health Sciences Research Grants (Comprehensive Research on Life-Style Related Diseases including Cardiovascular Diseases and Diabetes Mellitus H22-019 and H25-016) from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.