Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Global Diabetes Epidemic

A study published in the Lancet shows that the number of people with diabetes has doubled since 1980. According to the study, Diabetes is one of the biggest causes of mortality worldwide, and it will present the single largest burden on world health care systems.

The study, funded by the World Health Organization and the Gates Foundation – analyzed blood from 2.7 million participants aged 25 and over from across the world over a three-year period.

The study estimates that the number of adults with diabetes was 347 million, more than double the 153 million estimated in 1980 and considerably higher even than a 2009 study that put the number at 285 million.

However, the study noted no increase in age-standardized diabetes prevalence in east and southeast Asia, although ageing and population growth led to an increase in the number of people with diabetes.

According to the study, the prevalence of male adult diabetics worldwide rose from 8.3% to 9.8% in that period, with adult females increasing from 7.5% to 9.2%. As to the causes, the study attributes 70% to ageing and 30% to the increased prevalence of other factors, with obesity and body mass the most important. The dramatic and disturbing increase in obesity can be attributed to the spread of a western-style diet to developing nations.

The study notes that primary prevention of dysglycaemia will need weight control, physical activity, and improved diet quality. According to the study, such interventions are difficult to implement within populations and will not affect diabetes incidence in the short term.

More importantly, the study concludes that health systems in most countries will inevitably have to develop programs to improve detection and management of diabetes to slow progression to microvascular and macrovascular complications.

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