New facts and figures about the astonishing prevalance of diabetes around the world are constantly being published, edited and updated. So, unsurprisingly enough, sometimes these figures may seem to contradict each other, and often times it is difficult to decide what sources are the most trustworthy.
That’s why the World Diabetes Foundation has an ongoing project with the International Diabetes Federation called “Diabetes Atlas.” The atlas is exactly that, a compliation of all the statistics world-wide that researchers are able to measure about how diabetes is drastically affecting both the developed and developing world. The full atlas can be downloaded online (you may have to register with the IDF, which is free).
One thing to note however, is that it is incredibly difficult to determine accurate statistics for the developing world. There are literally thousands of people with diabetes that are either un-diagnosed, mis-diagnosed, or simply not counted in countries around the world such as Bangladesh where technology makes surveying the country’s health on such a grand scale difficult. What is even more unfortunate is that these people who are not diagnosed have absolutely no chance of receiving the good health care that they so desperately need. It is already difficult enough for people with diabetes in low income countries to find even a percentage of the health care that the need to survive. That is why diabetes is not only a chronic disease reaching epidemic proportions, it is also an incredibly needlessly deadly disease in the third world.
To more accurately paint a picture of the current diabetes situation, on the WDF website, they have some interesting statistics about the prevalance and incidence of diabetes in the developing world in both human and economic terms:
(These I have copied and paraphrased from the WDF website, where there are more statistics that I have edited out for room’s sake.)
- The prevalence of diabetes has reached epidemic proportions, and by 2025, nearly 80% of all new diabetes diagnoses will be in developing countries.
- In a generation, diabetes has had a six-fold increase. In 1985 there were an estimated 30 million people with diabetes.
- Today diabetes affects more than 230 million people, almost 6% of the world’s adult population.The number of people living with diabetes is expected to grow to 350 million in less than 20 years if action is not taken.
- Diabetes is one ot the major causes of premature death worldwide. Every 10 seconds a person dies from diabetes-related causes.
- Diabetes is increasing faster in the world’s developing economies than in developed countries. Seven out of ten countries with the highest number of people living with diabetes are in the developing world.
- With an estimated 35 million people with diabetes, India has the world’s largest diabetes population.
- If present trends persist, by 2025 the majority of people with diabetes in the developing countries will be in the 45-64 age group.
- Type 2 diabetes is responsible for 90-95% of diabetes cases, 80% of type 2 diabetes is preventable by changing diet, increasing physical activity and improving the living environment.
- In developing countries, less than half of people with diabetes are diagnosed.
- In some cases indispensable for survival, and in others necessary to maintain normal blood sugar levels, insulin remains under utilised in many developing countries. Culturally based misconceptions and chronic shortages are just some of the reasons for this.
- The diabetes pandemic, which consists primarily of type 2 diabetes, has evolved in association with rapid cultural changes, aging populations, increasing urbanisation, dietary changes, decreased physical activity and other unhealthy lifestyles and behavioural patterns. Without effective prevention and control programmes, the incidence of diabetes is likely to continue rising globally.
- It may seem strange that the developing world, which is often associated with hunger and inadequate nutrition for children, is now experiencing an epidemic in type 2 diabetes, a disease related to wealth and unhealthy lifestyle. This can be explained by the high degree of urbanization in some countries (such as India) that have made people adapt lifestyles drastically. It is also a fact that some people genetically have a higher risk of developing diabetes and combined with great changes in lifestyle this risk has turned to reality for many people in those countries.