What is the ‘roadmap to diabetes’ in China?

How mobile research helped identify the risk factors for diabetes in the Chinese context, and suggests ways of correcting this trend

By Dalia Research, a market research agency and MRops.


What habits and lifestyle particularities correlate with diabetes?

Diabetes is becoming an increasingly important threat to the health and well-being of the Chinese population, but most of the research around this disease has been Western-centric. Dalia Research and MRops decided to study the lifestyles, habits and behaviours that were associated with diabetes in China, in the hopes of finding out which of these could be discouraged or in fact promoted in order to avoid a further spread of the disease.


Mobile research

In order to reach as many people as possible, including the usually underrepresented rural populations, the researchers opted to do a mobile survey as nearly 90% of the Chinese population possesses a mobile phone. Researchers also wanted to avoid recruiting bias, and therefore recruited participants through mobile ads rather than SMS or the installation of a proprietary app. They asked the participants to complete a 51-question survey. The sample population was 5,544 people, living in different parts of China, in proportion with the population density, so as to be geographically representative. 81 of those respondents, representing 2% of the population, were suffering from diabetes.

So what?

Correlations and identification of a ‘roadmap to diabetes’ in China

The survey results showed an important correlation between unhealthy habits and diseases, and, more specifically, diabetes; the survey showed that although some people receive the disease genetically, an increasing percentage of the population also get it by adopting unhealthy lifestyles and habits.

The identification of the spectrum and of the different stages allowed for a modelisation of a “roadmap to diabetes”, highlighting the path that would lead to a deterioration of health and the potential for contracting the disease – and alternatively, the road to a healthier and less disease-prone life as well.

The study identified causes for hope: because of increasing emphasis on habits and lifestyle, this means that curbing those unhealthy habits and behaviors can to a certain extent, control the disease.