Skip Navigation
Skip to contents

Diabetes Metab J : Diabetes & Metabolism Journal



Page Path
HOME > Diabetes Metab J > Volume 42(5); 2018 > Article
Epidemiology Trends of Diabetes Epidemic in Korea
Ji Cheol Baeorcid
Diabetes & Metabolism Journal 2018;42(5):377-379.
Published online: October 22, 2018
  • 37 Download
  • 22 Web of Science
  • 21 Crossref
  • 22 Scopus

Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Samsung Changwon Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Changwon, Korea.

Corresponding author: Ji Cheol Bae. Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Department of Internal Medicine, Samsung Changwon Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, 158 Paryong-ro, Masanhoewon-gu, Changwon 51353, Korea.

Copyright © 2018 Korean Diabetes Association

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

The prevalence of diabetes is on the rise across the globe [1], and Korea is no exception. Diabetes is a common chronic disease, but it serves as a major cause of blindness, chronic kidney disease, coronary heart disease, and stroke, and is also one of the leading cause of death in the world [1]. Thus, the increasing prevalence of this disease is a heavy burden for both patient and society. Population-based data are crucial to analyze the disease burden, contribute to developing a public health policy, evaluate the effectiveness of various preventive measures for reducing burden of the disease, and expand the health-related knowledge around the nation [2]. In this issue of the Diabetes and Metabolism journal, two original research articles examine the epidemiology of diabetes using population-based data. In one article, Won et al. [3] examined the prevalence of diabetes among Korean adults. In another article, Kim et al. [4] assessed the recent trends of all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality rates among persons with diabetes in Korea.
The study by Won et al. [3] provides the most up-to-date data on the prevalence of diabetes among Korean adults. The authors analyzed data from the sixth (2013 to 2014) Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES). The KNHANES was performed by the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the participants in this survey represents the Korean adult population [5]. The prevalence of diabetes in Korean adults aged ≥30 years was 13.7%, which is estimated to be about 4.8 million adults with diabetes. With the global increase in prevalence of diabetes in adults over the last decade [1], the prevalence of diabetes in Korean adults has also increased by 5.1%, from 8.6% in 2001 to 13.7% in 2016. Of even greater concern is the fact that the estimated population with impaired fasting glucose (IFG) was about 8.3 million, which leads to a prediction that the prevalence of diabetes will increase further in the future since IFG is viewed as one of the high-risk categories for the future development of diabetes. Approximately 25% of patients with IFG and impaired glucose tolerance progress to diabetes over an observation period of 3 to 5 years [6]. Consistent with the results observed in other nationwide studies [78], diabetes was more common in people with low income level than people with high income level and was more prevalent in men than in women in most age groups. The authors note that the proportion of undiagnosed diabetes was considerable (29.3%). However, patients with diagnosed diabetes who were being treated was around 90%, and 43.5% of them achieved glycosylated hemoglobin levels less than 7%.
Unlike the increased prevalence of diabetes, the incidence of CVD and the CVD-related mortality have declined substantially among persons with diabetes over the past decade in high-income countries [910]. This trend was also observed in Korean diabetic patients. The study by Kim et al. [4] provide data on the trends of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality among persons with diabetes in Korea. All-cause and CVD mortality rates continuously decreased in patients with diabetes from 2003 to 2013. The gap in mortality between individuals with or without diabetes continuously decreased over time. However, as the authors note, it is interesting that the reduction in CVD mortality was primarily attributed to a reduction in mortality from ischemic stroke, rather than from ischemic heart disease. In a Swedish population that has diabetes, the decline in CVD mortality was mainly due to a decline in mortality from ischemic heart disease [9]. Over the last decade in United States, the decline in the incidence of myocardial infarction in diabetic patients was greater than the decline in stroke [10].
United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study follow-up trials have shown the importance of glucose-lowering therapy in reducing the risk of CVD among patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) [11]. On the basis of Steno-2 study, multifactorial risk reduction strategies beyond glycemic control including lipid-lowering therapy with statin and blood pressure control have been shown to reduce the risk of CVD in patients with T2DM [12]. The evidences obtained from the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes study added fuel to the movement toward more individualized treatment and goal setting for T2DM [13]. Clinical application of the findings from these trial and improvements in risk factor management are believed to have improved cardiovascular outcomes in patients with diabetes over the recent two decades. Advances in revascularization may have also played a role [9].
These epidemiologic findings related to the Korean population with diabetes show two important trends. One is that the prevalence of diabetes has increased in recent decades. The other is that the mortality from CVD in diabetic patients have declined substantially. Given these trends and the increasing life span, the duration of life with serious diabetes complication will increase [14]. These continued diabetes-related morbidities such as CVD, end-stage renal disease, and amputation will be another major challenges to our communities in coming years. Efforts should be made to reduce these burden.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: No potential conflict of interest relevant to this article was reported.

  • 1. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas. 7th ed. Brussels: International Diabetes Federation; 2015.
  • 2. IDF Diabetes Atlas Group. Update of mortality attributable to diabetes for the IDF Diabetes Atlas: estimates for the year 2013. Diabetes Res Clin Pract 2015;109:461-465. ArticlePubMed
  • 3. Won JC, Lee JH, Kim JH, Kang ES, Won KC, Kim DJ, Lee MK. Diabetes fact sheet in Korea, 2016: an appraisal of current status. Diabetes Metab J 2018;42:415-424.ArticlePubMedPMCPDF
  • 4. Kim KJ, Kwon TY, Yu S, Seo JA, Kim NH, Choi KM, Baik SH, Choi DS, Kim SG, Park Y, Kim NH. Ten-year mortality trends for adults with and without diabetes mellitus in South Korea, 2003 to 2013. Diabetes Metab J 2018;42:394-401.ArticlePubMedPMCPDF
  • 5. Kweon S, Kim Y, Jang MJ, Kim Y, Kim K, Choi S, Chun C, Khang YH, Oh K. Data resource profile: the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES). Int J Epidemiol 2014;43:69-77. ArticlePubMedPMC
  • 6. Nathan DM, Davidson MB, DeFronzo RA, Heine RJ, Henry RR, Pratley R, Zinman B. American Diabetes Association. Impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance: implications for care. Diabetes Care 2007;30:753-759. PubMed
  • 7. Menke A, Casagrande S, Geiss L, Cowie CC. Prevalence of and trends in diabetes among adults in the United States, 1988-2012. JAMA 2015;314:1021-1029. ArticlePubMed
  • 8. Rabi DM, Edwards AL, Southern DA, Svenson LW, Sargious PM, Norton P, Larsen ET, Ghali WA. Association of socio-economic status with diabetes prevalence and utilization of diabetes care services. BMC Health Serv Res 2006;6:124ArticlePubMedPMCPDF
  • 9. Rawshani A, Rawshani A, Franzen S, Eliasson B, Svensson AM, Miftaraj M, McGuire DK, Sattar N, Rosengren A, Gudbjornsdottir S. Mortality and cardiovascular disease in type 1 and type 2 diabetes. N Engl J Med 2017;376:1407-1418. ArticlePubMed
  • 10. Benjamin EJ, Virani SS, Callaway CW, Chamberlain AM, Chang AR, Cheng S, Chiuve SE, Cushman M, Delling FN, Deo R, de Ferranti SD, Ferguson JF, Fornage M, Gillespie C, Isasi CR, Jimenez MC, Jordan LC, Judd SE, Lackland D, Lichtman JH, Lisabeth L, Liu S, Longenecker CT, Lutsey PL, Mackey JS, Matchar DB, Matsushita K, Mussolino ME, Nasir K, O'Flaherty M, Palaniappan LP, Pandey A, Pandey DK, Reeves MJ, Ritchey MD, Rodriguez CJ, Roth GA, Rosamond WD, Sampson UKA, Satou GM, Shah SH, Spartano NL, Tirschwell DL, Tsao CW, Voeks JH, Willey JZ, Wilkins JT, Wu JH, Alger HM, Wong SS, Muntner P. American Heart Association Council on Epidemiology and Prevention Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics-2018 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation 2018;137:e67-e492. ArticlePubMed
  • 11. Holman RR, Paul SK, Bethel MA, Matthews DR, Neil HA. 10-Year follow-up of intensive glucose control in type 2 diabetes. N Engl J Med 2008;359:1577-1589. ArticlePubMed
  • 12. Gaede P, Vedel P, Larsen N, Jensen GV, Parving HH, Pedersen O. Multifactorial intervention and cardiovascular disease in patients with type 2 diabetes. N Engl J Med 2003;348:383-393. ArticlePubMed
  • 13. Action to, Gerstein HC, Miller ME, Byington RP, Goff DC Jr, Bigger JT, Buse JB, Cushman WC, Genuth S, Ismail-Beigi F, Grimm RH Jr, Probstfield JL, Simons-Morton DG, Friedewald WT. Effects of intensive glucose lowering in type 2 diabetes. N Engl J Med 2008;358:2545-2559. ArticlePubMedPMC
  • 14. Gregg EW. The changing tides of the type 2 diabetes epidemic-smooth sailing or troubled waters ahead? Kelly West Award Lecture 2016. Diabetes Care 2017;40:1289-1297. ArticlePubMedPDF

Figure & Data



    Citations to this article as recorded by  
    • Dynamic changes in prevalence of type 2 diabetes along with associated factors in Bangladesh: Evidence from two national cross-sectional surveys (BDHS 2011 and BDHS 2017–18)
      Sabiha Shirin Sara, Ashis Talukder, Ka Yiu Lee, Nayan Basak, Shaharior Rahman Razu, Iqramul Haq, Chuton Deb Nath
      Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews.2023; 17(2): 102706.     CrossRef
    • Inverse Association between Oxidative Balance Score and Incident Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus
      Yu-Jin Kwon, Hye-Min Park, Jun-Hyuk Lee
      Nutrients.2023; 15(11): 2497.     CrossRef
    • Non-HDL cholesterol as a predictor for incident type 2 diabetes in community-dwelling adults: longitudinal findings over 12 years
      In-Ho Seo, Da-Hye Son, Hye Sun Lee, Yong-Jae Lee
      Translational Research.2022; 243: 52.     CrossRef
    • Severe Hypoglycemia Increases Dementia Risk and Related Mortality: A Nationwide, Population-based Cohort Study
      Eugene Han, Kyung-do Han, Byung-Wan Lee, Eun Seok Kang, Bong-Soo Cha, Seung-Hyun Ko, Yong-ho Lee
      The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.2022; 107(5): e1976.     CrossRef
    • Effects of Teneligliptin on HbA1c levels, Continuous Glucose Monitoring-Derived Time in Range and Glycemic Variability in Elderly Patients with T2DM (TEDDY Study)
      Ji Cheol Bae, Soo Heon Kwak, Hyun Jin Kim, Sang-Yong Kim, You-Cheol Hwang, Sunghwan Suh, Bok Jin Hyun, Ji Eun Cha, Jong Chul Won, Jae Hyeon Kim
      Diabetes & Metabolism Journal.2022; 46(1): 81.     CrossRef
    • Fatty liver index as a predictor for incident type 2 diabetes in community-dwelling adults: longitudinal findings over 12 years
      In-Ho Seo, Hye Sun Lee, Yong-Jae Lee
      Cardiovascular Diabetology.2022;[Epub]     CrossRef
    • Triglyceride glucose (TyG) index as a predictor of incident type 2 diabetes among nonobese adults: a 12-year longitudinal study of the Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study cohort
      Byoungjin Park, Hye Sun Lee, Yong-Jae Lee
      Translational Research.2021; 228: 42.     CrossRef
    • Leukocyte count, C-reactive protein level and incidence risk of type 2 diabetes among non-smoking adults: A longitudinal finding over 12 years from the Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study
      A-Ra Cho, Jun-Hyuk Lee, Hye Sun Lee, Yong-Jae Lee
      Primary Care Diabetes.2021; 15(2): 385.     CrossRef
    • White Blood Cell Count as a Predictor of Incident Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Among Non-Obese Adults: A Longitudinal 10-Year Analysis of the Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study
      Jae-Min Park, Hye Sun Lee, Ju-Young Park, Dong-Hyuk Jung, Ji-Won Lee
      Journal of Inflammation Research.2021; Volume 14: 1235.     CrossRef
    • C-reactive protein-to-albumin ratio and 8‐year incidence of type 2 diabetes: the Korean genome and epidemiology study
      A.-Ra Cho, Sung‐Bum Lee, Kyung-Won Hong, Dong‐Hyuk Jung
      Acta Diabetologica.2021; 58(11): 1525.     CrossRef
    • Comparison of fracture risk between type 1 and type 2 diabetes: a comprehensive real-world data
      J. Ha, C. Jeong, K.-D. Han, Y. Lim, M.K. Kim, H.-S. Kwon, K.-H. Song, M.I. Kang, K.-H. Baek
      Osteoporosis International.2021; 32(12): 2543.     CrossRef
    • Lung function as a predictor of incident type 2 diabetes in community-dwelling adults: A longitudinal finding over 12 years from the Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study
      J.H. Lee, H.S. Lee, Y.J. Lee
      Diabetes & Metabolism.2020; 46(5): 392.     CrossRef
    • Metformin Treatment for Patients with Diabetes and Chronic Kidney Disease: A Korean Diabetes Association and Korean Society of Nephrology Consensus Statement
      Kyu Yeon Hur, Mee Kyoung Kim, Seung Hyun Ko, Miyeun Han, Dong Won Lee, Hyuk-Sang Kwon
      Diabetes & Metabolism Journal.2020; 44(1): 3.     CrossRef
    • Serum γ-glutamyltransferase as an independent predictor for incident type 2 diabetes in middle-aged and older adults: Findings from the KoGES over 12 years of follow-up
      Jun-Hyuk Lee, Hye Sun Lee, Yong-Jae Lee
      Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases.2020; 30(9): 1484.     CrossRef
    • Metformin treatment for patients with diabetes and chronic kidney disease: A Korean Diabetes Association and Korean Society of Nephrology consensus statement
      Kyu Yeon Hur, Mee Kyoung Kim, Seung Hyun Ko, Miyeun Han, Dong Won Lee, Hyuk-Sang Kwon
      Kidney Research and Clinical Practice.2020; 39(1): 32.     CrossRef
    • The incidence and seasonal variation of necrotizing fasciitis in Korea: a nationwide cross-sectional study
      H.K. Choi, G.H. Seo, E. Han
      Clinical Microbiology and Infection.2020; 26(8): 1090.e1.     CrossRef
    • Triglyceride to HDL-cholesterol ratio and the incidence risk of type 2 diabetes in community dwelling adults: A longitudinal 12-year analysis of the Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study
      Tae-Kyeong Lim, Hye Sun Lee, Yong-Jae Lee
      Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice.2020; 163: 108150.     CrossRef
    • Diabetic Retinopathy and Related Clinical Practice for People with Diabetes in Korea: A 10-Year Trend Analysis
      Yoo-Ri Chung, Kyoung Hwa Ha, Kihwang Lee, Dae Jung Kim
      Diabetes & Metabolism Journal.2020; 44(6): 928.     CrossRef
    • Elderly Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patients: Open or Laparoscopic Approach?
      Jong Man Kim, Sangjin Kim, Jinsoo Rhu, Gyu-Seong Choi, Choon Hyuck David Kwon, Jae-Won Joh
      Cancers.2020; 12(8): 2281.     CrossRef
    • Diabetes and the Risk of Infection: A National Cohort Study
      Eun Jin Kim, Kyoung Hwa Ha, Dae Jung Kim, Young Hwa Choi
      Diabetes & Metabolism Journal.2019; 43(6): 804.     CrossRef
    • Premeal Consumption of a Protein-Enriched, Dietary Fiber-Fortified Bar Decreases Total Energy Intake in Healthy Individuals
      Chang Ho Ahn, Jae Hyun Bae, Young Min Cho
      Diabetes & Metabolism Journal.2019; 43(6): 879.     CrossRef

    • PubReader PubReader
    • Cite
      export Copy
      Download Citation
      Download a citation file in RIS format that can be imported by all major citation management software, including EndNote, ProCite, RefWorks, and Reference Manager.

      • RIS — For EndNote, ProCite, RefWorks, and most other reference management software
      • BibTeX — For JabRef, BibDesk, and other BibTeX-specific software
      • Citation for the content below
      Trends of Diabetes Epidemic in Korea
      Diabetes Metab J. 2018;42(5):377-379.   Published online October 22, 2018
    • XML DownloadXML Download
    Related articles

    Diabetes Metab J : Diabetes & Metabolism Journal