Diabetes by the Numbers

A major international study looking at worldwide diabetes data since 1980 has discovered that the number of adults with the disease reached 347 million in 2008, more than double the number in 1980. The research was just published in The Lancet.

The study, the largest of its kind for diabetes, was carried out by an international collaboration of researchers, led by Professor Majid Ezzati from Imperial College London and co-led by Dr. Goodarz Danaei from the Harvard School of Public Health, in collaboration with The World Health Organization and a number of other institutions.

Here is a summary of some of the data they complied:

• High blood glucose and diabetes are responsible for over three million deaths worldwide each year.

• Between 1980 and 2008, the number of adults with diabetes rose from 153 million to 347 million.

• The proportion of adults with diabetes rose to 9.8 per cent of men and 9.2 per cent of women in 2008, compared with 8.3 per cent of men and 7.5 per cent of women in 1980.

• The estimated number of diabetics was considerably higher than a previous study in 2009 which put the number worldwide at 285 million.

• Diabetes has taken off most dramatically in Pacific Island nations, which now have the highest diabetes levels in the world. In the Marshall Islands, one in three women and one in four men have diabetes.

• Glucose and diabetes were also particularly high in south Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Central Asia, North Africa and the Middle East.

• Among high-income countries, the rise in diabetes was relatively small in Western Europe and highest in North America. Diabetes and glucose levels were highest in USA, Greenland, Malta, New Zealand and Spain, and lowest in the Netherlands, Austria and France.

• Of the 347 million people with diabetes, 138 million live in China and India and another 36 million in the USA and Russia.

• The region with the lowest glucose levels was sub-Saharan Africa, followed by east and southeast Asia.

Professor Majid Ezzati, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said “Diabetes is one of the biggest causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Our study has shown that diabetes is becoming more common almost everywhere in the world. This is in contrast to blood pressure and cholesterol, which have both fallen in many regions. Diabetes is much harder to prevent and treat than these other conditions.”



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Ajla C.
Past Member 3 years ago


Heidi Aubrey
Heidi Aubrey3 years ago

It at first seem curious that India and China have the highest rates, but in fact, they alone account for more than half of the worlds population so their rates are actually lower per capita than the U.S. or island nations. The numbers should have reflected a per capita rate rather than a total number of cases.

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

jane richmond
jane richmond4 years ago

Ah yes the gift that keeps on giving. Make it go away PLEASE!!!!

alicia m.
alicia m.4 years ago

please sign my diabetes related petition, gracias


Robert O.
Robert O.4 years ago

Very frightening and sobering numbers. Thanks.

Tim Cheung
Tim C.4 years ago


klemens okkels
klemens okkels4 years ago

diabetes is not all ways somthing there have to do with your lifestyle.

Clare E.
Clare Edwards4 years ago

I highly support changing the name diabetes to "Cookie disorder." Type I diabetes is a real disease, caused by most likely a virus in childhood that cannot be repaired. Type II is easily fixed by stepping away from the sugar and taking a walk. People can continue to try to be politically correct about this subject, but America will eventually look like Idiocracy if we ignore this problem. For the folks that will scream "oh, you just don't understand," actually I almost did research in a type I diabetes lab (much research involved with understanding the difference in type I and II), furthermore my cat was a fatty and almost died from Type II...After a monumental change in diet, he's now insulin free, in great shape and doesn't look a day over 5 years old (he's 12).
I'm so sick of obesity being so hush-hush. I'm also tired of the folks that prtend that having Type II is just devastating....Sorry, but having Type I, having cancer, having AIDS is awful...Having type II diabetes means you can't close your mouth when cake is involved. Type I on the other hand is devastating, but you're not the size of a house when you have Type I (quite the opposite).

Akin Adelakun
Akin Adelakun4 years ago

thanks for the great article