Endocrinol Metab.  2016 Sep;31(3):349-353. 10.3803/EnM.2016.31.3.349.

The Diabetes Epidemic in Korea

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Inje University College of Medicine, Goyang, Korea. jhnoh@paik.ac.kr


Diabetes is one of the foremost public health issues worldwide that can lead to complications in many organ systems, and has become a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in Korea. According to data from the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS), about 2.7 million Koreans (8.0%) aged 30 years or older had type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in 2013. The prevalence of T2DM increased with age and rose from 5.6% in 2006 to 8.0% in 2013. Using data based on The Health Screening Service of the NHIS, 25% of Korean adults were reported to have prediabetes in 2013. The prevalence of an impaired fasting glucose tended to increase over time from 21.5% in 2006 to 25.0% in 2013. Even though nationwide health screening has been regularly conducted as a public service, the proportion of undiagnosed cases of diabetes was still reported to be on the higher side in the latest study. Based on the results of these epidemic studies, further actions will be needed to effectively implement lifestyle changes on a social level and increase measures for the early detection of diabetes to stem the tide of the epidemic.


Epidemiology; Diabetes; Prediabetic state

MeSH Terms

Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2
Life Style
Mass Screening
National Health Programs
Prediabetic State
Public Health


  • Fig. 1 Trends in the prevalence of diabetes in Korea. (A) The age-standardized prevalence of diabetes based on the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys from 2001 to 2013. Diabetes was defined as a fasting plasma glucose value ≥126 mg/dL or a previous diagnosis of diabetes. (B) The prevalence of type 2 diabetes was determined based on data from the National Health Insurance Service. Type 2 diabetes was defined as the presence of ICD-10 code (E11–E14) and the prescription of anti-diabetic medications.

  • Fig. 2 The prevalence of diabetes according to age group in 2013. (A) The age-standardized prevalence of diabetes based on the 2013 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Diabetes was defined as a fasting plasma glucose value ≥126 mg/dL or a previous diagnosis of diabetes. (B) The prevalence of type 2 diabetes was based on data from the National Health Insurance Service. Type 2 diabetes was defined when an ICD-10 code (E11–E14) and the prescription of anti-diabetic medications were present.

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