According to the latest figures from the International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas, 285 million people worldwide have diabetes, and far more young people and those living in low- and middle-income countries are bearing the brunt of the epidemic.
More than half of the current number is of working age, between 20 and 60 years.
The IDF predicts that the total number of people with diabetes will exceed 435 million if the current rate of growth continues — more people than the current population of North America.
The new figures were released this week at the 20th World Diabetes Congress in Montreal.
“The data from the latest edition of the IDF Diabetes Atlas show that the epidemic is out of control,” Jean Claude Mbanya, MD, PhD, IDF president, said in a press release. “We are losing ground in the struggle to contain diabetes. No country is immune and no country is fully equipped to repel this common enemy.”
“The epidemic represents nothing short of a global health emergency,” he said.
In 1985, data suggested that 30 million people worldwide had diabetes, and fifteen years later, in 2000, the numbers were estimated to exceed 150 million. Now, less than 10 years later, the new figures indicate that the number is closer to 300 million.
Areas most affected with Diabetes
North America has the highest comparative prevalence rate of diabetes in adults (10.2%), followed by the Middle East and North Africa (9.3%).
The regions with the highest number of people living with diabetes are the Western Pacific, with 77 million, and South East Asia, with 59 million.
India has 50.8 million people living with diabetes, and close behind that is China with 43.2 million and the United States with 26.8 million. Numbers are also high in the Russian Federation (9.6 million), Brazil (7.6 million), Germany (7.5 million), Pakistan (7.1 million), Japan (7.1 million), Indonesia (7 million) and Mexico (6.8 million).
Data further reveal that the Gulf Region has an especially high percentage of the adult population living with diabetes.
The world’s highest rate of diabetes is in the Pacific island nation of Nauru, where 30.9% of the adult population is living with the disease. It is followed by the United Arab Emirates (18.7%), Saudi Arabia (16.8%), Mauritius (16.2%), Bahrain (15.4%), Reunion (15.3%), Kuwait (14.6%), Oman (13.4%), Tonga (13.4%) and Malaysia (11.6%).
Diabetes Worldwide effects
The IDF predicts that diabetes will cost the world economy at least $376 billion in 2010 — 11.6% of the total world health care expenditure. That number is projected to exceed $490 billion by 2030.
However, currently, more than 80% of diabetes spending is in the world’s richest countries and not in the poorer countries, where more than 70% of people with diabetes now live, according to latest figures.
The United States accounts for $198 billion — more than half — of total diabetes spending worldwide. Figure from India, which has the largest diabetes population, indicate that it spends $2.8 billion (1%) of global spending.
“The world needs to invest in integrated health systems that can diagnose, treat, manage and prevent diabetes,” IDF Diabetes Atlas team leader, Nigel Unwin, PhD, said in a press release. “Governments also need to invest in actions outside the formal health sector, particularly in promoting healthier diets and physical activity, to reduce obesity and the risk of type 2 diabetes.”
However, the IDF warns that many health systems are not yet equipped to handle the extent of the diabetes threat.
“Governments, aid agencies and the international community must take concerted action to defuse the threat now, before the diabetes time bomb explodes,” Mbanya said.
The IDF Diabetes Atlas provides estimates of diabetes prevalence, impaired glucose tolerance and health expenditures for 216 countries and territories. For more information on the latest figures, visit the IDF Diabetes Atlas website. – by Katie Kalvaitis