People in their 40s are now the largest group with fresh diagnoses of diabetes and high blood pressure after recent medical examinations carried out by the government. Men in their 40s also smoke the most and are the second-most obese.
Among 13.71 million people who underwent the public medical checkups last year, 558,000 were suspected to have diabetes and high blood pressure and asked to undergo a more through checkup, according to a report released by the National Health Insurance Service on Tuesday.
In the first checkup, 136,592 40-somethings were the second largest group with diabetes and high blood pressure after 175,110 50-somethings. But after the second, more thorough checkup, 40-somethings turned out to top the list at 54.2 percent for diabetes and 56.4 percent for high blood pressure.
Those in their 40s and 50s accounted for a combined 56.3 percent and 61.6 percent of people with diabetes and high blood pressure. Those who already knew they had diabetes and high blood pressure were not subject to the second checkups. That suggests that more than half of people with new diagnoses of chronic diseases are middle-aged rather than elderly.
"In the past, it was mostly older people who suffered from chronic diseases, but now many middle-aged people are already showing symptoms," an NHIS official said.
About half or 46.5 percent of men in their 40s smoke, the largest group of smokers in all age groups. And 44.8 percent are overweight, with a body mass index of over 25, the second most obese group after those in their 30s (46 percent). Smoking and obesity often lead to chronic diseases.
Meanwhile, only 42 percent of those who agreed to have the tests were found to be in good health, down 7.4 percentage points from 2011. That means six out of every 10 people either have diseases or are suspected to have them.
But the NHIS official said this was because more older people had the checkups as the population ages. The proportion of over-60s who had the tests rose from 20.5 percent in 2011 to 23.9 percent in 2016.