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.