Latest figures show level of diabetes growth by 2035

by Barbara Hewitt on February 7, 2014

Some 382 million people had diabetes in 2013 and by 2035 this will rise to 592 million with type 2 diabetes increasing in every country, according to figures from the International Diabetes Federation.

The IDF’s sixth annual Diabetes Atlas report also shows that the greatest number of people with diabetes are between 40 and 59 years of age and 175 million people with diabetes are undiagnosed.


Today’s emerging diabetes hotspots include countries in the Middle East, Western Pacific, sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia

The stark figures also show that diabetes caused 5.1 million deaths in 2013 and every six seconds a person dies from diabetes. And for the first time it reveals the effects of diabetes on childbirth, showing that more than 21 million live births were affected by diabetes during pregnancy in 2013.

‘The figures in this edition are a harsh reminder of how far we still have to go. Today, there are 382 million people living with diabetes. A further 316 million with impaired glucose tolerance are at high risk from the disease, an alarming number that is set to reach 471 million by 2035,’ said Sir Michael Hirst, IDF president.

‘Diabetes is on the rise all over the world and countries are struggling to keep pace. The misconception that diabetes is a disease of the wealthy is still held by but the evidence disproves that delusion. A staggering 80% of people with diabetes live in low and middle income countries, and the socially disadvantaged in any country are the most vulnerable to the disease,’ he added.

The report shows that today’s emerging diabetes hotspots include countries in the Middle East, Western Pacific, sub-Saharan Africa and South East Asia where economic development has transformed lifestyles. ‘These rapid transitions are bringing previously unheard of rates of obesity and diabetes. ‘Developing countries are facing a firestorm of ill health with inadequate resources to protect their population,’ Hirst explained.

‘Without concerted action to prevent diabetes, in less than 25 years’ time there will be 592 million people living with the disease. Most of those cases would be preventable. However, without a multi-sectoral, all of society approach, the disturbing projections in this edition of the IDF Diabetes Atlas will be realised,’ he pointed out.

He suggests that countries need to increase awareness of the importance of a healthy diet and physical activity, especially for children and adolescents. ‘In the last two years, progress has been made toward driving political change for diabetes. Diabetes is now prominent on the global health agenda, with specific targets for access to essential medicines and for halting the growth of obesity and diabetes. Still, we must not miss this opportunity. Governments and policy makers, health professionals and those affected by the disease must remain engaged in the fight so that IDF may achieve its vision of living in a world without diabetes,’ he added.

Professor Nam Han Cho, chairman of the IDF Diabetes Atlas Committee, said that it is particularly worrying that the new estimates show an increasing trend towards younger and younger people developing diabetes. ‘Estimates of type 1 diabetes in young people also show unexplained and rapid increases in several regions along with the rise in type 2 diabetes in older populations. The burden of diabetes is reflected not only in the increasing numbers of people with diabetes, but also in the growing number of premature deaths due to diabetes,’ he pointed out.

For the first time, the IDF Diabetes Atlas has produced estimates of high blood glucose in pregnancy. ‘This serious and under reported condition is affecting many women and infants. Not only does diabetes pose a grave threat to the health of a mother and her child but evidence shows high blood glucose levels during pregnancy can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes later in life for the child, further contributing to the already devastating epidemic,’ said Professor Cho.

‘More high quality studies than ever before have contributed to the estimates in this edition of the IDF Diabetes Atlas. Nevertheless, more studies are needed to describe the burden of diabetes in order to improve the precision of the estimates, and contribute to an evidence base that is fundamental in driving powerful advocacy for people with diabetes,’ he added.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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