China has the highest number of diabetics in the world with 92.4 million with the condition, but 61 percent of them do not know they have the disease, state media reported Monday.
"A combination of poor public awareness and limited access to early detection services are largely responsible for the low diagnostic rate on the mainland," Ji Linong, head of the Chinese Diabetes Society, was quoted saying.
A total of 13 percent of China's total medical spending, around 25 billion dollars, is diabetes-related, the China Daily report said, citing a study by the Chinese Diabetics Society and the International Diabetes Federation.
"The cost of treating diabetes will rise rapidly in the next 10 to 20 years, as patients who have gone undiagnosed develop serious complications whose treatment will definitely cost more," Ji said.
The 61 percent of undiagnosed diabetics face higher risks of suffering eyesight or kidney problems and risk having strokes, the report said.
China's economic growth has led to increased health problems linked to the richer diets and more sedentary lifestyles of an emerging middle class.
Since China's economic boom went into high gear in the 1980s, millions of people have left the countryside for jobs in cities -- ditching bicycles for cars and embracing aspects of Western living such as fast food.
There are more than 60 million obese people in the country of 1.3 billion, and another 200 million who are overweight, according to figures from China's health ministry.