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Vietnam Ranks First in Southeast Asia for Diabetes

Add diabetes to smoking and drinking on the list of major threats to Vietnam’s public health.

Even as some in Vietnam begin to embrace organic produce, there are far more who prefer the arms of Colonel Sanders and his heart-clogging delights. After a decade of altered eating habits, the health effects of fast food and sugary drinks have begun to rear their ugly head - Vietnam now leads SE Asia in the rate of diabetics.

An estimate from the International Diabetes Federation stated that 3.3 million, or 3.7% of the Vietnamese population is diabetic, a rate that is climbing, especially among the country’s young.

The unfortunate statistics were revealed last Sunday at a conference held in the south-central city of Ninh Binh to mark World Diabetes Day and comes on the heels of report earlier this year which found that in HCMC, the rate of diabetes had skyrocketed by 300% since 2003.

Last year, Thomas Fuller penned an article in the New York Times writing that Vietnamese doctors blame “Westernization and Urbanization” as the driving factors of the diseases’ growth.

The spread of the disease, which can cause blindness, kidney failure and limb amputations is the fourth-leading cause of mortality in the world, and will inevitably put pressure on Vietnam’s fragile health system.

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