Diabetes: a real epidemic

By the Scienzaeconoscenza.it Editor

The data published in 2011 by the International Diabetes Federation, in the Atlas of diabetes, speak for themselves. Today, diabetes affects 366 million people worldwide, and if nothing is done, estimates indicate that by 2030, this number is destined to double, reaching 700 million. 46% of all patients fall into the age group between 40 and 59 and 78, 000 are children who fall ill each year with type 1 diabetes . It is estimated that over 4.6 million deaths can be attributed to diabetes each year. This means around 12, 600 deaths per day or nine deaths per minute.

Diabetes, especially type 2 diabetes, now affects 5.9% of the world's adult population . The regions with the highest incidence are the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East, where 9.2% of the adult population is affected, and North America (8.4%). The highest numbers, however, are found in areas of the western Pacific, where about 67 million people have diabetes, followed by Europe with 53 million.

Diabetes and lifestyle

Of particular concern is the dramatic increase in the incidence of diabetes found in low and middle income countries . It may seem strange that developing countries, often associated with poor socio-economic conditions, are affected by an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, a disease related to well-being and incorrect lifestyles. All this can be explained by the high rate of urbanization of countries like India, which has adapted to the lifestyles of industrialized countries, ending up with diseases linked to these new habits.

The association between poor diet, obesity, lack of exercise and diabetes is strong.

From an epidemiological point of view, diabetes mellitus has been associated with the western lifestyle and is not common in cultures where a traditional and indigenous diet is widespread. Type 2 diabetes appears to have the highest incidence in indigenous cultures that have minimal genetic defenses. When populations abandon their local diets to switch to Western eating habits, the incidence of diabetes increases and sometimes reaches the same proportions as those registered in welfare societies.

In 2007 the three countries with the highest number of diabetics were India (40.9 million), China (39.8 million) and the United States (19.2 million), followed by Russia (9.6 million) and from Germany (7.4 million).

Economic impact

The estimated economic impact of diabetes is considerable and is becoming a very serious problem in the poorest countries, where diabetics and their families bear the full cost of the care they need. In Latin America, families pay 40-60% of their total disease costs out of pocket and in India the poorest people spend on average 25% of their income to receive private care.

Since diabetes in developing countries is increasing faster than the economic growth of the countries themselves, it is precisely these nations that will feel the burden of this burden.

In New York, half of elementary school students are overweight and about one in four is obese (with over 20% of overweight). The state tries to promote physical exercise, but in the city the schools' budgets are such as to foresee little. Added to this is that American children watch about 20, 000 hours of commercials promoting junk food, much of which can be bought in vending machines in their schools.

People with diabetes have a greater risk of developing a series of serious health problems. Constantly high blood glucose levels can lead to serious cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure, amputation of the lower limbs and neurological problems. People with diabetes need regular monitoring of complications. Diabetes is associated with chronic respiratory diseases, cancer, cardiovascular problems and for these reasons it has become a real priority of the global strategy for the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.


Gabriel Cousens. "Treating Diabetes in 21 Days" Macro Editions.

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