TOKYO -- Japan's number of suspected diabetics hit 10 million for the first time last year, according to health ministry estimates released Thursday, with the increase attributed to growing obesity rates and an aging public.
These patient numbers rose by 500,000 since the last assessment in 2012. Japan had 6.9 million diabetes patients in 1997 when the ministry began issuing such estimates, and the number has risen steadily. The ministry collects data on diabetics every four to five years as part of its annual national health and nutrition survey.
Inadequate exercise and unhealthy eating habits have fanned Japan's rising rates of obesity, while the elderly have higher rates of diabetes.
Roughly 11,000 adults were surveyed, with 12.1% seen as suspected diabetics. Of those patients, 78.7% of men and 74.1% of women were undergoing treatment. Though more patients are receiving treatment, many diabetics remain unaware of their condition.
But the ranks of those considered to be potential diabetics shrank to 10 million last year, down by 1 million from 2012 and declining from a peak of 13.2 million in 2007. Preventive actions taken as a result of tests for metabolic syndrome that began in fiscal 2008 may be having an impact, according to the ministry.