The number of adults with diabetes in the world has more than doubled since 1980, according to a study published online by The Lancet medical journal on Saturday, June 25.
Researchers from Imperial College, London, UK and Harvard University, Cambridge, USA, analysed data from 2.7 million people across every continent, using statistical techniques to project a worldwide figure.
People With Diabetes Doubled Since 1980
They claim the total number of people with diabetes has more than doubled since 1980, rising from 153 million to 347 million.
Recognizing that diabetes is now a major global health problem, the authors call for better detection and treatment to combat the rise.
Diabetics have inadequate blood sugar control, a condition that can lead to heart disease and strokes, as well as damage to kidneys, nerves and the retina. About three million deaths a year are attributed to diabetes and associated conditions in which blood sugar levels are disrupted.
According to The Guardian, the dramatic and disturbing increase is blamed by scientists on the spread of a western-style diet to developing nations, which is causing rising levels of obesity.
Diabetes Epidemic Affecting 350m – And Western Fast Food Is To Blame reads The Guardian headline.
Researchers also say that increased life expectancy is playing a major role.
Type 2 is the most common type of diabetes, accounting for about 85-95% of cases, and is often tied to obesity. It develops when the body fails to produce enough insulin to break down glucose, inflating blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes is a separate auto-immune disorder.
Spending On Diabetes Could Soar
From the BBC:
Majid Ezzati, of Imperial College London, said: “Diabetes is becoming more common almost everywhere in the world.
“Unless we develop better programs for detecting people with elevated blood sugar and helping them to control their weight, diabetes will continue to impose a major burden on health systems around the world.”
The condition is closely linked with obesity. Patients have to inject themselves with insulin.
Of developed nations, the US had the highest prevalence. The diabetes rate was relatively low in western Europe.
The study, carried out in conjunction with the World Health Organisation, found that the diabetes rate had either risen or stayed the same in virtually every country.
Spending on diabetes medicines – already worth £22bn annually – could hit £30bn by 2015, according to drug research firm IMS Health.
And these numbers mean that the cost of taking care of people suffering from diabetes could have a huge impact on the economy, and on the cost of healthcare worldwide.
This is yet another reminder that for so many reasons, eating fast food is just not a good idea. And how depressing that the west keeps exporting these bad ideas: the first McDonalds in India recently opened its doors in New Delhi, offering the “Maharaja Mac.”
Photo Credit: emilio labrador via Creative Commons