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Diabetes now global, reaching epidemic status

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

A news release from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) shows that 285 million people worldwide have diabetes, affecting seven percent of the world’s population. Fifteen years ago, 150 million people were estimated to have diabetes. Diabetes has spread across the globe, reaching epidemic status, posing a threat to health and prosperity.

According to the report, the leaders in diabetes are North America, the Middle East, and North Africa. Just over ten percent of North Americans are diabetic, and in the Middle East and Africa, 9.2 percent of the populations are diabetic.

The incidence of diabetes is highest in India, affecting 50.8 million people. The occurrence in China is 43.2 million, and in the United States 26.8 million people have diabetes.

Diabetics are found 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)”, according to the release.

The financial impact of diabetes is a “time bomb’, says IDF President Mbanya. “The epidemic represents nothing short of a global health emergency. It is alarming that world leaders stand by while the diabetes fuse slowly burns. The serious impact on families, countries and economies continues with little resistance. Governments, aid agencies and the international community must take concerted action to defuse the threat now, before the diabetes time bomb explodes.”

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The economic impact of diabetes across the globe is expected to cost $376 billion in 2010, and exceed $490 billion by the year 2030.

Mbanya says without diabetes prevention, economic growth will become impaired. “The world needs to invest in integrated health systems that can diagnose, treat, manage and prevent diabetes.”

Suggestions to curb the diabetes that has reached epidemic proportions, and is increasing across the globe include government interventions that promote healthier diets and exercise.

Type 1 diabetes is not preventable, but type 2 diabetes can be either better managed or prevented in more than half of those diagnosed by remaining active throughout life and choosing foods associated with a healthy diet. The economic burden of diabetes stems from the complications that include kidney disease and failure, blindness, amputation, heart disease, and stroke.

The findings that diabetes has reached epidemic proportions are alarming. More than seventy percent of diabetics live in the world’s wealthiest countries, but the disease has now expanded across the globe.