Over a third of the deaths of people aged between 35 and 74 years-old in Mexico can be attributed to diabetes.
The figures come from a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine.
Data was initially collected between 1998 and 2004 and then the participants, aged 35 years or older, were monitored over 12 years. The researchers compared the mortality rates of people with diabetes against those without the condition.
When the researchers used an HbA1c of 48 mmol/mol (6.5%) as a definition of diabetes status, the number of deaths in people with diabetes was 35 per cent.
The researchers stated that the excess deaths could be attributed to poorly controlled diabetes. As is the case in nearly every country, the vast majority of cases of diabetes in Mexico are of type 2 diabetes.
An important note is that the most commonly used diabetes medication was sulphonylureas. 68-69 per cent of people with diabetes were using this type of medication whereas metformin was only used by between 17 and 19 per cent.
Sulphonylureas are initially effective at lowering blood glucose levels as they stimulate the pancreas to release more insulin. However, the accompanying negative effects of the drug are weight gain and worsening of insulin resistance and pancreatic burnout which can make the drugs less effective after years of use.
Sulphonylureas have consistently demonstrated poorer heart health compared with other diabetes drugs, and this could be a significant factor in why the rate of death attributed to diabetes is so high in Mexico.
Another factor that could be a key factor is Mexico’s high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. This factor is currently being addressed as in 2014, Mexico introduced a tax on sugary drinks.
Time will tell if the tax helps to reduce the rates of diabetes and diabetes-related deaths in the country.

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