The “global crisis” of diabetes poses a “serious challenge” to healthcare systems worldwide, researchers say after revealing new figures which show that the number of cases could surpass one billion by 2050.

With cases set to “grow aggressively” in the coming years, there are predictions that between one in seven and one in eight people across the world could have diabetes by 2050.

The team behind the new study say that said globally, no country is likely to see a reduction in rising rates of diabetes, and that “structural racism and geographic inequity” are fuelling the steady increase in cases.

Dr Shivani Agarwal, from the Montefiore Health System and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, said: “Diabetes remains one of the biggest public health threats of our time and is set to grow aggressively over the coming three decades in every country, age group and sex, posing a serious challenge to healthcare systems worldwide.”

Access to essential drugs and new treatments is a particular challenge to those in marginalised communities, who are more likely to have worse blood sugar control and reduced life expectancy.

The charity Diabetes UK highlighted the “rapidly escalating diabetes crisis” earlier this year. Around 4.3m people live with diabetes in the UK, with an estimated 850,000 thought to have the condition but have not been diagnosed.

Nine in 10 cases in the UK are type 2 diabetes, with the condition associated with being overweight. Around 64% of adults in England are overweight or obese, leading to a rise in the number of cases of type 2 diabetes.

Chief executive of Diabetes UK, Chris Askew, commented on this latest study, saying: “This important study underlines the sheer scale of the diabetes crisis we’re facing, both in the UK and around the world.

“We already know that in the UK, type 2 diabetes does not affect everyone equally. Your ethnicity, where you live and your income all affect your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, the care you receive and your long-term health, and these are all interlinked.

“The need for concerted cross-government action to address inequalities in diabetes prevalence and outcomes, as well as the underlying conditions of ill health, such as poverty and living with obesity, has never been greater or more urgent.”

The charity has warned that cases of type 2 diabetes are on the rise in people under the age of 40 and is more common in areas of deprivation.

Risk factors are “multiple and complex”, the charity says, and along with weight, these factors include age, family history, and ethnicity.

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