The International Diabetes Federation has called for diabetes to be placed on the global agenda alongside major political and financial issues and for governments to introduce a sugar tax.
The organisation believes that a sugar tax should be discussed among world leaders as a necessary policy to combat obesity and the resulting growth of type 2 diabetes, which is associated with being overweight and having a sedentary lifestyle alongside a diet overloaded with sweetness.
The IDF points out that diabetes is now a bigger killer than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined. The IDF estimates that most countries spend between 5% and 20% of their healthcare budget on the disease.
Diabetes puts not only patients but whole economies at risk, according to Petra Wilson, chief executive of the IDF, an umbrella organisation of more than 230 national associations.
New data from the IDF shows that 415 million adults have diabetes, with an additional 318 million at risk of a disease that can cause blindness, cardiovascular, kidney and nerve problems. It is estimated that one person in 10 will develop diabetes by 2040.
The IDF believes that if governments were to target diabetes risk factors and adopt fiscal policies on unhealthy foods revenue could be generated from a sugar tax to improve prevention of type 2 diabetes and care for all people with diabetes and those at risk.
And it is not just the big economies that need to look at the issue. According to the latest IDF Diabetes Atlas 2015, some 75% of people with diabetes live in developing countries where rapid urbanisation and related shifts toward unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles are accelerating diabetes rates.
IDF points to the Middle East and North Africa region as one of the areas worst affected. It is estimated that the number of adults with diabetes in the region will increase more than two fold by 2040, taking the regional total from 35 million adults with diabetes to 72 million or from 9.1% to 11.4% of the adult population.
South and Central America is also expected to experience a sharp climb in diabetes rates with an estimated 65% increase in cases by 2040, resulting in one adult in eight with diabetes by 2040.
In South-East Asia, one quarter of all births are affected by diabetes in pregnancy. If left unmanaged, this can result in complications, including obstructed labour and increased risk of both mother and baby developing type 2 diabetes in the longer term.
“If we cannot take steps to prevent type 2 diabetes and improve management of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, we risk not only the health of people but also economies and the livelihood of future generations,” said Wilson.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.