Global prevalence of diabetes set to affect one tenth of humanity by 2040

Camille Bienvenu
Fri, 18 Nov 2016
Global prevalence of diabetes set to affect one tenth of humanity by 2040
New estimates by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) reveal that the global rise of diabetes has been misjudged, with the condition now likely to affect one tenth of the world's population by 2040.

Today, 415 million people suffer from diabetes, and if the toll is rising as fast as forecasters expect, this number could skyrocket to 642 million by 2040.

According to the new alarming figures, a person somewhere in the world dies as a consequence of type 1 or type 2 diabetes every six seconds. Nearly half of these deaths are among people younger than 60 years old.

In 1995, the World Health Organisation (WHO) projected that the number of people between 20 and 79 years of age who will develop the condition would more than double in three decades.

But, global disease rates are rising more sharply and quickly than expected, as just twelve years later the number of people with diabetes has already nearly doubled.

With five million lives lost to diabetes in 2015, the condition now kills more than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

Both type 2 diabetes and type 1 diabetes are increasing rapidly, with the latter rising globally at about 3 per cent a year.

Type 2 diabetes currently accounts for 90 per cent of cases in high-income countries.

However, the IDF also predicts that it will soon no longer be a rich-world disease, reaching new heights in parts of South-East Asia and parts of Africa – where diabetes is responsible for more than four-fifths of deaths.

The leading causes of death in the world today are cancer (all types), which recently trumped heart disease, cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases like COPD, liver disease and neurodegenerative diseases.

Diabetes is now likely to become one of the top five mortality causes of 2030, and a serious global healthcare issue.

Already, diabetes takes up 12 per cent of health spending globally, and represents a fifth of healthcare expenses in some countries.

Current global statistics on diabetes diagnosis indicate that one in two people with diabetes remain undiagnosed.

Diabetes management will have to change in the future with more emphasis on mandatory screening.

In addition to the gold standard for diagnosis – fasting and random blood glucose levels – we may see the arrival of non-invasive, quick, no-fasting, no bloodwork methods to predict diabetes risk, which could be performed at annual GP physical check ups.
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