Researchers found that people with the disease lost an average of nine years of life.
However they suggested that part of the reason for this was that the condition was not as well controlled in China as in high-income countries.
They also found that people in urban areas were twice as likely to get diabetes than those living in the countryside, but the later lost an average of 10 years of life, compared to eight for city-dwellers.
Diabetes has quadrupled in China in recent decades and an estimated 100 million adults are thought to have the condition today.
Writing in the journal JAMA, the researchers said: “As the prevalence of diabetes in young adults increases and the adult population grows, the annual number of deaths related to diabetes is likely to…