NY Travel Clinic

Diabetes Rates Increasing Worldwide

The latest study published in the British Medical Journal, Lancet, indicates that there are now 422 million adults worldwide living with diabetes. These numbers have gone up from about a 100 million individuals since 1980. Diabetes is a serious disorder that can affect the patient’s quality of life. Not only does it force them to change their lifestyle, they are also bound to use medications throughout their life.

The treatment cost of diabetes is over $800 million globally each year.

Experts warn that if this trend continues, there will be nearly 700 million adults with diabetes in the next decade. Failure to control blood sugar levels can lead to devastating complications that include loss of vision, heart attacks, stroke, amputations and kidney failure.

This latest study involved 500 scientists from around the world who investigated 4.4 million adults. The study did not distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes as the initial raw data did not differentiate between the two. Type 2 diabetes accounts for nearly 90% of all cases of diabetes. The researchers compared levels of diabetes in both adult men and women from 1980 to 2014.

The study revealed that rates of diabetes in men have doubled since 1980. In the US alone, there are nearly 21 million people diagnosed with diabetes.  Among diabetes, the US ranks 114th for men and 146th for women in the world. Countries with the lowest age adjusted rates for diabetes were located in North Western Europe, especially Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands and Belgium. The highest rates of diabetes were found in the South Pacific in Micronesia and Polynesia, with more than 20% of the population affected.

Overall the highest increase in diabetes was seen in low and middle income countries. Other data revealed that the cost of looking after diabetic individuals was highest in China ($170 billion), followed by the US ($105 billion) and India ($73 billion).

Other highlights of the study were that the Pacific Islanders, the Middle Easterners and North Africans have the highest levels of diabetes in the world. Around 50 percent of the 422 million adults with diabetes live in 5 nations: India, China. Brazil, USA and Indonesia.

Experts believe that the rise in diabetes is primarily because of an unhealthy lifestyle, lack of exercise and a rise in obesity. Unless lifestyle changes occur, diabetes is going to be endemic globally.