Global Diabetes Pandemic Shows No Sign of Abating

One in 10 of the world's population will have diabetes by 2035, as the number of people with the disease is expected to grow from 385 million today to 592 million people by 2035.

This article published with permission from The Burrill Report.

One in 10 of the world's population will have diabetes by 2035, according to the International Diabetes Federation, as the number of people with the disease is expected to grow to 592 million people by 2035, compared to 385 million today. It represents a global epidemic as the number of people with type 2 diabetes increasing in every country, with almost half of them undiagnosed.

The grim numbers come from the latest edition of the IDF Diabetes Atlas, published on World Diabetes Day, Nov. 14, 2013. Many of the people with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries and the majority are under 60 years of age. The chronic disease is particularly troubling because it increases the risk of developing serious diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys, nerves and teeth. People with diabetes also have a higher risk of developing infections. In almost all high-income countries, diabetes is a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputation.

The largest increase in incidence of type 2 diabetes, which makes up 90% of all cases, is expected to take place in Sub-Saharan Africa, where the number of cases is expected to double over the next 20 years. In South and Central America, current trends point to a 60% increase in the number of people with diabetes within a generation. Already in some Pacific Island nations, one adult in three has the disease.

“Diabetes is a disease of development. The misconception that diabetes is ‘a disease of the wealthy’ is still held, to the detriment of desperately needed funding to combat the pandemic,” said Michael Hirst, president of the International Diabetes Federation speaking at the International Diabetes Leadership Forum in Istanbul, Turkey. “On World Diabetes Day, we must continue to increase awareness of the importance of a healthy diet and physical activity. Crucially, environments must be created that lay the foundations for healthy living.”

By the end of 2013, 5.1 million people will have died from diabetes-related complications, according to the IDF Diabetes Atlas. In Africa, three-quarters of diabetes deaths are in people under 60 years old. China (98 million), India (65 million), and the United States (24 million) lead the world in the highest numbers of people with diabetes.

The International Diabetes Federation puts the cost of diabetes at $548 billion in 2013. With as many as 175 million undiagnosed cases worldwide, many people are unaware of their elevated risk.

The agency, an umbrella organization comprised of more than 200 national diabetes organizations from 160 countries, hopes that the release of the new figures will push stakeholders to take immediate action toward prevention and treatment of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases.

Copyright 2013 Burrill & Company. For more life sciences news and information, visit www.burrillreport.com.