On my morning transit flight onboard the Air China from Beijing to Dailan on the 11th of November, flipping through the only available reading materials, Beijing Evening News, I stopped at the headline “千个北京娃 五个糖尿病”. Only interesting headline like this can stop me in this world of media clutter.

The disease control center of Beijing states that in every thousand of the female children population, five of them have diabetes. Majority of the “甜娃娃” or diabetic dolls (little girls are referred to as dolls in China) are also “胖娃娃” or obese dolls. The information released is to part of the global observation of the disease.  

Used to be observed as World Diabetes Day on 14 November yearly at a global level since 1991 by the International Diabetes Federation with co-sponsorship of the World Health Organization, the United Nations has since passed a resolution to observe it as United Nations Diabetes Day yearly starting from 14 November 2007.

Once only thought of as the disease of the aging population, diabetes is catching up with the younger population and in particular, the young children and teenagers. This is evident as the number of young people seeking treatment is increasing as according to the eye clinic of the University of Beijing. One doctor there reported that a 23 year old patient has become blind.

In Beijing, the number of diabetic children between the ages of 6 to 18 is 5.4% of the diabetic population. This rate is increasing at a staggering 10% yearly. The report stated that currently, for those 6 to 10 years old, 4.7% is diabetic, 10 to 15 years old 5.3% and 15 to 18 years old 6.1%.

The trend is so worrying that the local medical authority is publicing the UN anti-diabetes messages and has sent out a “远离糖尿病 健康新生活” (Keep distance from diabetes, have a healthy new living) proposal to all parents of students in all primary and secondary schools.