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347 million adult diabetics worldwide -- study

Test for blood sugar level Diabetics have poor blood sugar control, which leads to conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney or nerve damage, and blindness.

The number of diabetic adults worldwide has risen to 347 million, finds a new study, which also suggests the cost of treatment will increase, causing a burden on the health systems of all nations.

The study was conducted by an international group of scientists in association with the World Health Organization (WHO).

The study, published online in ‘The Lancet,’ suggested that the numbers of diabetics in nations worldwide have either increased or remained unchanged in past three decades.

Earlier the number of diabetic adults was estimated to be about 285 million worldwide. The new study found a higher figure and stated that 138 million cases can be found in China and India, whereas 36 million reside in the U.S. and Russia.

"Diabetes is one of the biggest causes of mortality worldwide, and our study has shown that it is becoming more common almost everywhere. It is set to become the single largest burden on world health care systems." -- Maji Ezzati, chairman of global environmental health at Imperial College London.

The most common form of diabetes is type-2 diabetes, which is linked with obesity and a lack of physical activity.

Western-style diet to be blamed, say researchers
Diabetic patients have poor blood sugar control, which leads to conditions like heart disease, stroke, kidney or nerve damage, and blindness.

Scientists have pointed the spread of western-style diet in developing nations as the reason for the observed increase in numbers. They suggested that increased life expectancy is also playing a major part.

The study lead, Maji Ezzati, chairman of global environmental health at Imperial College London said, "Diabetes is becoming more common almost everywhere in the world."

Study found the rise fastest in Cape Verde, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea, and the United States.

Nations may have difficulty coping with the consequences
Ezzati said, "Diabetes is one of the biggest causes of mortality worldwide, and our study has shown that it is becoming more common almost everywhere. It is set to become the single largest burden on world health care systems."

"Many nations are going to find it very difficult to cope with the consequences,” he added.

“We are not at the peak of this wave yet,” he further said. “And unlike high blood pressure and cholesterol, we still don’t have great treatments for diabetes."

Goodarz Danaei from the Harvard School of Public Health, who accompanied Ezzati stated, "Unless we develop better programs for detecting people with elevated blood sugar and helping them to improve their diet and physical activity and control their weight, diabetes will inevitably continue to impose a major burden on health systems around the world."