The world is badly losing the battle against diabetes as the number of people estimated to be living with the disease has now soared to a new record of 382 million this year, medical experts said on Friday. The vast majority have type 2 diabetes, the type linked to obesity and lack of exercise. The diabetes epidemic is spreading rapidly as more people in the developing world adopt more Western, urban lifestyles.
The very latest estimates from the International Diabetes Federation are equivalent to a global prevalence rate of 8.4 percent of the total adult population and compares to 371 million cases in 2012. By 2035, the organization predicts the number of diabetes cases will have soared by 55 percent to 592 million cases.
"The battle to protect the population from diabetes and its disabling, life-threatening complications is simply being lost," the federation said in the sixth edition of it's Diabetes Atlas, noting that related deaths from the disease are cumulative to 5.2 million a year or 1 every sixty seconds. Individuals who suffer with diabetes have inadequate blood sugar controls, which can easily lead to a wide range of serious medical complications, including severe damage to the eyes, kidneys and heart. If left untreated, diabetes can easily result in premature death.
"Year after year, the statistics seem to be getting worse," said Dr. David Whiting, an epidemiologist and public health authority at the federation. "All around the entire world we are seeing increasing numbers of people developing diabetes." He indicated that a strategy involving all segments of our society is required to vastly improve the diets and promote healthier lifestyles in all countries.
The federation now calculates diabetes already accounts for annual healthcare expenditures exceeding $548 billion and this number is likely to rise to 627 billion by the year 2035.
Disturbingly, an estimated 175 million of diabetes cases are as of yet undiagnosed, therefore an incredible number of people are progressing towards diabetes complications that they are completely unaware of. Most of these individuals live in low and middle income countries with far less access to medical care than in the United States, Canada and Europe. The country with the most diabetic cases overall is China, where the heavy case load is expected to rise to 142.7 million cases in 2035 up from 98.4 million at the present time.
The highest prevalence of diabetes rates are found in the Western Pacific, where more than a third of adults in Tokelau, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands are already suffering from the disease. The Pharmaceutical industry has developed a wide range of medicines over the decades to counter diabetes, however many diabetic patients still struggle to control their blood sugar levels adequately, leading to a continued search for improved treatment.