Sue Marshall blogs about diabetes for Desang

Stunning stats on global ‘epidemic’ of diabetes from International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) | January 5, 2010

MONTREAL, Canada. The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) released new data today showing that a staggering 285 million people worldwide have diabetes. The latest figures from the IDF Diabetes Atlas indicate that people in low and middle-income countries (LMCs) are bearing the brunt of the epidemic, and that the disease is affecting far more people of working age than previously believed.

In 1985, the best data available suggested that 30 million people had diabetes worldwide. Fast-forward 15 years and the numbers were revised to just over 150 million. Today, less than 10 years on, the new figures – launched at the 20th World Diabetes Congress in Montreal, Canada – put the number closer to 300 million, with more than half aged between 20 and 60. IDF predicts that, if the current rate of growth continues unchecked, the total number will exceed 435 million in 2030 – many more people than the current population of North America.

Professor Jean Claude Mbanya, President of the International Diabetes Federation, voiced concern: “The data from the latest edition of the IDF Diabetes Atlas show that the epidemic is out of control. We are losing ground in the struggle to contain diabetes. No country is immune and no country is fully equipped to repel this common enemy.”

Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented. It is an autoimmune disease in which the body destroys its own insulin-producing cells. People with type 1 diabetes require daily injections of insulin to survive. The majority of all diabetes is type 2 diabetes (85%-95%), which in many cases can be prevented. People with type 2 diabetes cannot use the insulin they produce effectively, but can often manage their condition through exercise and diet, although many go on to require medication, including insulin, to properly control blood glucose levels. It is estimated 60% or more of type 2 diabetes could be prevented.

Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes represent a serious health threat. Diabetes claims four million lives every year and is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and amputation

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