Diabetes Doubles Globally

Diabetes and glycemia are on the rise around the world

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Diabetes is not just a huge problem in the United States. All over the world, people are getting the disease. Now, it looks like diabetes may be a bigger worldwide problem than was thought.

Diabetes rates are growing around the world, according to a study published in The Lancet. In fact, the number of people with diabetes more than doubled between 1980 and 2008.

"Diabetes has become an even larger worldwide problem."

In order to understand how diet and lifestyle leads to diabetes in certain populations, researchers need information on diabetes trends, the study's authors write.

For this reason, Goodarz Danaei, M.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health, and colleagues collected data on blood sugar levels and diabetes from 199 different countries.

They found that both diabetes and blood sugar levels are on the rise globally. In 1980, there were 153 million people with diabetes. By 2008, that number had grown to 347 million.

In 2008, the biggest rise in blood sugar and diabetes was in Oceania (the islands scattered throughout the Pacific Ocean). Blood sugar levels and diabetes were also high in south Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, central Asia, north Africa, and the Middle East.

The lowest blood sugar levels were in sub-Saharan Africa, east and southeast Asia, and wealthier countries in the Asia-Pacific.

Among the higher-income areas of the world, western Europe had the smallest increase in blood sugar levels each decade. North America had the largest increase.

According to the authors, blood sugar levels and diabetes are rising globally because of both growing populations, aging populations, and other age-specific factors that raise the risks for these problems.

The authors conclude that steps need to be made in order to keep people from developing diabetes. Healthcare systems need to be ready to find and control diabetes and the other problems caused by the disease.

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Review Date: 
June 30, 2011
Last Updated:
July 5, 2011