Diabetes in Vietnam: Welcome to “Westernization”

Yesterday’s NYT Sunday, June 9, 2013, pA14)  had a very interesting article on the dramatically increased prevalence of diabetes in Vietnam; a 6-fold increase since 1991.  The article was entitled: “Prosperity in Vietnam caries a price: diabetes,” and was written by Thomas Fuller.  The author focuses on the epidemic increase in lower extremity amputations caused by the diabetes and does a nice job in discussing why there is so much more diabetes.  Of course, the reason for the increased prevalence of diabetes is that many people in Vietnam have the genes for type 2 diabetes, they are eating more, and are getting less physical activity than in the past, the same reasons for the diabetic epidemic in the rest of the world.  So, as the title of the article suggests, as a country’s economic status improves, the citizens’ health status may deteriorate.  It may be hard to believe, but based on International Diabetes Federation data, almost 400 million people world-wide have diabetes.  The only good news about these data is that for the vast majority of people who have diabetes, proper treatment can prevent the complications of the disease.  In addition, for the vast majority of people at risk to develop diabetes, the disease can be prevented.  We, the citizens of the world, need to find a way to promote economic development and, at the same time, control its negative consequences.  In theory, we already know how to deal with these problems.  In practice, we are doing a woeful job at it.

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