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1.3 Billion People Worldwide Could Have Diabetes by 2050

FRIDAY, June 23, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Diabetes is skyrocketing, with more than 500 million people of all ages living with the disease today and the number of cases worldwide projected to hit 1.3 billion in the next 30 years.

"The rapid rate at which diabetes is growing is not only alarming but also challenging for every health system in the world, especially given how the disease also increases the risk for ischemic heart disease and stroke," said lead researcher Kanyin Liane Ong, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in Seattle.

"While the general public might believe that type 2 diabetes is simply associated with obesity, lack of exercise and a poor diet, preventing and controlling diabetes is quite complex due to a number of factors. That includes someone’s genetics, as well as logistical, social and financial barriers within a country’s structural system, especially in low- and middle-income countries,” Ong said in an institute news release.

Worldwide, 6% of people have diabetes, making it one of the top 10 leading causes of death and disability, the new study found. The highest rate is in North Africa and the Middle East, 9%, which is projected to reach 17% by 2050. The rate in Latin America and the Caribbean is projected to increase to 11%.

In every country, the disease is commonly seen in people 65 and older with a prevalence rate of more than 20%. The highest rate was 24% for 75- to 79-year-olds. The highest rate for people in that age group is in North Africa and the Middle East (39%) and the lowest is in Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia (20%).

In all, 96% of diabetes cases are type 2 diabetes. Obesity was the primary risk, accounting for 52% of disability and premature death, followed by poor diet, environmental and occupational risks, smoking, inactivity and alcohol use, the researchers found.

"Some people might be quick to focus on one or a few risk factors, but that approach doesn’t take into account the conditions in which people are born and live that create disparities worldwide,” said co-author Lauryn Stafford, a post-bachelor fellow at the institute. "Those inequities ultimately impact people’s access to screening and treatment, and the availability of health services. That’s precisely why we need a more complete picture of how diabetes has been impacting populations at a granular level.”

The findings were published June 22 in The Lancet.

More information

To learn more about type 2 diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association.

SOURCE: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, news release, June 22, 2023

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