The number of elderly people afflicted with diabetes has increased over the past 10 years, a report released yesterday by the Department of Health said.
"The percentage of people aged 65 and over diagnosed with diabetes increased from 8.7 percent in 1989 to 15.1 percent in 1999," said Lin Hui-sheng (林惠生), director of the department's Center for Population and Health Survey and Research.
Lin attributed the rise to two main factors.
"One reason is because of our diabetes screening promotion over these past years," Lin said. "The more people are screened, the more people we find."
He also said a lack of activity has played a role in the increase.
"The fact that people do not engage in regular exercise," he said, "is the other reason the diabetes figure has increased."
Lin added that Taiwan has an elderly population of approximately 2 million.
"In other words," he said, "there are roughly 300,000 senior citizens in Taiwan suffering from diabetes."
Diabetes is a disease that can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and stroke.
The warning signs of diabetes include symptoms such as frequent urination, unusual weight loss, blurred vision, numbness in the hands or feet and bladder infections, Lin said.
The report also found that the number of old people who smoke has dropped from 31 percent in 1989 to 23 percent of 1999.
Lin attributed the reason to the fact "that more people are aware of the disadvantages cigarette smoking can bring, such as the development of lung cancer."