The problem of diabetes in the Philippines

The Philippines

The Philippines

After understanding what diabetes is, it is useful for us to understand how large of a problem Diabetes  is in the Philippines and who is affected.

Worldwide there are more than 371 Million people with confirmed Diabetes.

In the Philippines the number of reported cases is: 4,321,459 (4.3 Million)  out of a measured adult population ( Ages 20-79) of 52,590,480 (52.6 Million)

That equates to a rate of: 8.22 Percent of the adult population ages 20-79 living with a confirmed case of Diabetes in the Philippines.

…or more simply stated, 1 out of every 13 Filipino Adults living in the Philippines ages 20-79 has this disease.

Of the above numbers the breakdown is:

Filipino Men Ages 20-79 -: 1,185,757

Filipino Women Ages 20-79 : 3,135,702

Filipinos that live in an urban setting such as a city or large town the number is: 2,480,962

Filipinos that live in Rural settings, such as provincial areas  or villages the number is: 1,840,497

The estimated number of Filipinos living with UNDIAGNOSED Diabetes is: 2,539,290

Now that is folks with a standard medical definition of Diabetes.

For those Filipinos with Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) or Prediabetes the number is: 6,555,013 (6.6 Million)

That equates to a rate of: 12.46  Percent of the Adult Population ages 20-79 living with IGT or Prediabetes.

Impaired Glucose Tolerance is broadly defined as anyone with high blood glucose levels, but not as high as those with diagnosed Diabetes. IGT is more commonly known as Prediabetes, and shares many of the same risk factors and symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes. We will cover  IGT and Prediabetes in future articles.

Though Asians generally have lower instances of diagnosed diabetes than some other ethic groups, diabetes rates are much higher, among  Pacific Islanders, South Asians and Filipinos according to a study by the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research and the University of California, San Francisco.

It is also estimated that in the Philippines,  diabetes in all its forms is under reported and undertreated due to a variety of factors.

Some of these factors include but are not limited to:

Economic standing. (Ability to visit or consult with a doctor on a regular basis)

Cultural issues. (Having any type of infirmity is cause for secrecy and denial in many homes and workplaces as one example.) Cultural issues are varied, but in general are different than beliefs and superstitions

Folk Medicine beliefs. Folk medicine such as Albularyo, Manhilothilot, mangluluop etc presents barriers to proper and successful treatment and management of diagnosed diabetes in many instances.

Education. Diabetes symptoms and treatment is not well taught in many countries, and the Philippines is no exception.

With under reporting and under treatment comes a whole host of issues that we will focus on from time to time that expand on the above mentioned items

However, in order to have a successful treatment path we will stick to commonly accepted scientific facts and real situations to help you or your loved ones deal with and live successfully with diabetes.

The statistics presented here do little to help you manage the problem, however it is important to realize the significance of this global problem and how it relates to the Filipino with Diabetes.


Data Statistics provide by the International Diabetes Foundation IDF Diabetes Atlas 5th edition


  1. says

    Pretty sobering statistics there, Joe. To put things in perspective, how do these rates compare with the rates in the USA?

    Also, based on personal observation of many statistical exercises in the Philippines, my uneducated guess is that the “real” rates on the Philippines may be as much as several times higher than what’s shown. A lot of cases never get diagnosed and many others are know but unreported.

    Anyway, great work here. get on with friend.

    • Tito Joe says

      Dave, thanks for the post. I agree the hidden numbers are probably much higher.
      Also so sorry for the long wait for this to post. I got bombed by spammers and had over 3k comments submitted to this site…all spam. I think I figured out how to avoid that problem, but it’s a learning experience.

    • Joy Lara says

      Sobering indeed. A good friend of mine died “suddenly” just a few months ago. Family says she “didn’t know” she had diabetes. She grew obese in past 15 years, and was known to not be able to walk a neighborhood block without stopping to gasp for air. You are right to cite all those factors: denial, proper care being too expensive, fatalistic/”religious” attitude (if God calls me it’s my time — which I would LOVE to argue, but have to learn to do so without offending them & making them harder to reach). Most important is the lack of education among sufferers AND their families, who do not know how to create a home environment conducive to managing diabetes. My friends death was a wake up call for me to reach out to my own mom, who has suffered all her life but struggles to manage it due to lack of education on what she can do, and lack of family support. People around her have given up on her — I don’t want to let myself do the same. Thank you for sharing your insights and encouragement. This means a lot to me.

  2. says

    Saw your test post a few hours ago, apparently you deleted it. I am glad to see you (and the site) alive. Get moving and get posting, there is no time like the present. It’s not like fixing an airplane where a single loose screw could spell disaster, all you got to do it do it, no lives will be lost in the crash ;-)

    Are you coming to Marilao soon?

    • Tito Joe says

      Actually heading your way on or around 17 March. Should be on station for about 1 month. Will Email ya when my plans firm up.

      Yeah…..just do it. Sounds like a commercial for Nike. How appropriate in this case. See ya soon. Be well my friend.

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