Sun Life Financial Asia diabetes study reveals gap in awareness

Aligning with World Diabetes Day today, Sun Life Financial Asia has released the findings of its diabetes awareness study, a regional research conducted in Vietnam, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. 

Only a handful of respondents were aware of the risks of developing diabetes during pregnancy

The study shows that 30 per cent of Asian women who are or were pregnant in the past three years are unaware of the risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy. In Vietnam, this rate is 43 per cent, relatively high compared to the region.

Accordingly, 31 per cent of respondents in the region do not know there is more than one type of diabetes. Hong Kong, one of the most developed markets in the survey, has the lowest level of awareness with 40 per cent of respondents not knowing this fact. Vietnamese respondents show a similar rate with 38 per cent.

The survey also finds that respondents believe diabetes decreases life expectancy by 19 years on average, when in fact the average is between 10 and 12 years, showing a significant gap between perception and reality. However, Vietnamese respondents made an accurate estimate of 11 years.

“The Sun Life Financial Asia diabetes awareness study was conducted to demystify this chronic disease, aiming to bridge the knowledge gap and promote a positive change in the perception of diabetes, helping people live healthier,” said Larry Madge, chief executive officer of Sun Life Vietnam.

Regarding the financial impact, about half of the respondents from Vietnam (51 per cent), the Philippines (50 per cent), and Hong Kong (49 per cent) believe that diabetes represents a burden on public healthcare systems.

Respondents from Vietnam estimate the annual treatment costs for each patient to stand at VND28.6 million, which represents 55 per cent of Vietnam’s GDP per capita. This is the most extreme case in the region.

The study also reveals the public’s bias towards diabetics and strong associations with unflattering characteristics, such as dangerous driving (37 per cent), laziness (38 per cent), lack of energy (62 per cent), not being athletic (43 per cent), and having mood swings (43 per cent). In Vietnam, 23 per cent respondents think people with diabetes should not have children and 61 per cent think diabetics cannot donate blood.

The Sun Life Financial Asia diabetes awareness study is a five-market regional study on the public understanding and perception of diabetes. The research was conducted by Ipsos, an independent market research house, in late September 2017 through online interviews with 2,119 Asians aged between 25 and 60 in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

The samples include the general public, diabetics, and women who currently are, or were pregnant in the past three years.

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By Ha Vy