Diabetes battle 'being lost' as cases hit record 382 million

Wed Nov 13, 2013 6:10pm EST
 
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By Ben Hirschler

LONDON (Reuters) - The world is losing the battle against diabetes as the number of people estimated to be living with the disease soars to a new record of 382 million this year, medical experts said on Thursday.

The vast majority have type 2 diabetes - the kind linked to obesity and lack of exercise - and the epidemic is spreading as more people in the developing world adopt Western, urban lifestyles.

The latest estimate from the International Diabetes Federation is equivalent to a global prevalence rate of 8.4 percent of the adult population and compares to 371 million cases in 2012.

By 2035, the organization predicts the number of cases will have soared by 55 percent to 592 million.

"The battle to protect people from diabetes and its disabling, life-threatening complications is being lost," the federation said in the sixth edition of its Diabetes Atlas, noting that deaths from the disease were now running at 5.1 million a year or one every six seconds.

People with diabetes have inadequate blood sugar control, which can lead to a range of dangerous complications, including damage to the eyes, kidneys and heart. If left untreated, it can result in premature death.

"Year after year, the figures seem to be getting worse," said David Whiting, an epidemiologist and public health specialist at the federation. "All around the world we are seeing increasing numbers of people developing diabetes."

He said that a strategy involving all parts of society was needed to improve diets and promote healthier lifestyles.   Continued...

 
A patient takes a blood glucose test during an event aimed to help people with diabetes to cope with their illness at Saint Luka diagnostics medical center in Sofia, November 13, 2012. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov