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Diabetes cases worldwide "doubled in 30 years"

Diabetes cases worldwide  doubled in 30 years Nearly 1 in 10 adults suffer

A major international study has found that the number of adults with diabetes world-wide reached 347m in 2008, more than double the number estimated in 1980.

This figure is much higher than the previous estimate of 285m from a study in 2009.

Just under 1 in 10 adult males (9.8%) have the disease, as do 9.2% of women - compared to 8.3% and 7.5% in 1980. This increase is mainly accounted for by general population growth and ageing, but 30% of cases were ascribed to increased prevalence of diabetes.

Diabetes occurs when the cells of the body are not able to take up sugar in the form of glucose. As a consequence, the amount of glucose in the blood is higher than normal. Over time, this raises the risk of heart disease and stroke, and can also cause damage to the kidneys, nerves and retinas. High blood glucose and diabetes are responsible for over three million deaths worldwide each year.

Commenting on the figures, study leader Majid Ezzati of the School of Public Health at Imperial College London said: "Diabetes is one of the biggest causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Our study has shown that diabetes is becoming more common almost everywhere in the world.

"This is in contrast to blood pressure and cholesterol, which have both fallen in many regions. Diabetes is much harder to prevent and treat than these other conditions."

Other items uncovered by the study, which was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organization and published in the Lancet, include:

  • The Pacific islands have the highest rates of diabetes in the world - in the Marshall Islands 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have the disease.
  • In the richest countries, rates were highest in US, Greenland, Malta, New Zealand and Spain and lowest in the Netherlands, Austria and France.
  • China, India, the US and Russia account for 138m of worldwide cases of diabetes.

This article was published on Mon 27 June 2011

Image © evgenyb -

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