From the “unite for diabetes” website:
Diabetes is an increasing global health threat. More than 240 million people worldwide are living with the disease. This number is expected to rise to a staggering 380 million by 2025. Each year, over 3.8 million deaths worldwide are attributable to diabetes-related causes and diabetes is now the fourth leading cause of death in most developed countries. Seven million people develop diabetes each year.
What is diabetes?
Diabetes is a chronic condition that arises when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin produced. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that enables cells to take in glucose from the blood and use it for energy. Failure of insulin production, insulin action or both leads to raised glucose levels in the blood (hyperglycaemia).
There are two main types of diabetes:
Type 1: people with type 1 diabetes produce very little or no insulin and require injections of insulin to survive. It is the most common type in children and young adults.
Type 2: people with type 2 diabetes cannot use insulin effectively. They can often manage their condition with lifestyle measures alone. In many cases oral drugs are needed. Sometimes insulin is required.
Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are serious.
The two major types of diabetes recognized are as type 1 and type 2. A third type of diabetes develops during some cases of pregnancy but usually disappears afterwards. Other rarer types of diabetes also exist.
Risk factors for diabetes
Both genetic and environmental influences appear to be important in the development of type 1 diabetes. Potential environmental triggers include viruses, toxins in the food chain and dietary components, though to date the involvement of these factors has not been proven in the majority of cases.
The risk factors for type 2 diabetes include:
• Overweight and obesity
• Physical inactivity
• High-fat and low-fibre diet
• Family history
• Low birth weight
The more risk factors an individual has, the greater their likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes
The prevalence of type 2 diabetes increases rapidly with age. People over the age of 45 are at higher risk of developing the condition. The chances of developing the condition increase further when age is accompanied by other risk factors for type 2 diabetes.
The Costs of Diabetes
Diabetes is responsible for a similar loss of lives each year as HIV/AIDS. However, the rise in type 2 diabetes, which makes up 90-95% of cases, engenders little of the emotion associated with infectious disease epidemics. Type 1 diabetes, the insulin-dependent form, which mainly afflicts the young, is also rising alarmingly. The humanitarian, social and economic costs of diabetes are immense – over a million amputations are due to diabetes each year; the disease causes a large percentage of cataracts, and at least 5% of worldwide blindness is due to diabetic retinal disease; diabetes is now the largest cause of kidney failure in developed countries and is responsible for huge dialysis costs in those countries that can afford the treatment.
The rapid increase in the numbers seeking diabetes care will soon outstrip global healthcare resources. This has led to calls for greater governmental and societal awareness and action. To do nothing is not an option. Whilst diabetes cannot yet be cured, prevention of type 2 is possible by proven low-cost strategies: changes in diet, increased physical activity and modified lifestyle.