Diabetes Epidemic

Global Burden of Disease

  • Diabetes currently affects over 366 million people worldwide
  • Prevalence se to grow to 552 million by 2030
  • Every 10 seconds two people develop diabetes
  • Every 10 seconds a person dies from diabetes-related causes

Diabetes is the most common human endocrine disease and the term covers a group of metabolic disorders whose central feature is elevated blood glucose, or hyperglycemia. While treatments have advanced in recent years, severe complications still sadly exist. The current difficulties in managing and treating diabetes can result in a deterioration of mulitple tissue types, and severe complications can include: diabetic retinopathy and blindness, leg/foot ulcers and amputations, neuropathies, kidney failure, cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, and strokes.


Diabetes can be divided into two main patient types:

  • Type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (IDDM), usually appears before or during puberty. It is caused by the auto-immune destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic cells and is treated by insulin injections and dietary control. IDDM is a life-threatening disease but almost all cases are successfully diagnosed and treated in the developed world.
  • Type 2 diabetes, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), typically appears after the age of 30. The disease is caused by an inability to secrete sufficient insulin or to respond adequately to it and is treated by dietary control, exercise, oral anti-diabetic drugs and insulin, either alone or in combination. NIDDM is not a life-threatening disease, unless ignored or left untreated in the long term, and 40-50% of those with Type 2 diabetes are probably undiagnosed.


The recent increase in prevalence of Type 2 diabetes among younger people, often accompanied by obesity, is a major source of concern for public health authorities as it implies significant increases in long-term healthcare costs. There is no cure for either IDDM or NIDDM and the effective treatment for both types hinges upon the tight regulation of blood glucose levels.


Sources: International Diabetes Federation, WHO & American Diabetes Association

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