Diabetes has doubled over the past three decades, with a startling 347 million individuals having the disease, an international study revealed today.
This indicates that the prevalence rate has remained the same, if not increased, over the years. The results are a stark contrast to a 2009 study that reported only 285 million individuals have the disease worldwide.
Researchers from the Imperial College London, Harvard School of Public Health, World Health Organization and other international organizations measured blood sugar from 2.7 million participants around the world. Of the 347 million with diabetes, 138 million live in China and India and 36 million live in the United States and Russia.
Professor Majid Ezzati, lead investigator of this diabetes study and professor at Imperial College London stated, “Diabetes is one of the biggest causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Our study has shown that diabetes is becoming more common almost everywhere in the world. This is in contrast to blood pressure and cholesterol, which have both fallen in many regions.”
What is Diabetes?
Although common, diabetes has long been a remarkably difficult illness to treat. It’s characterized by the body’s inability to transport glucose into the cells. Glucose is a sugar that is important to help fuel the body’s most important physiological processes.
When too much glucose remains in the blood, an individual can develop serious medical conditions if not treated. A “fasting plasma glucose” (FPG) below 5.6 millimoles per litre (mmole/L) is normal. However, glucose levels above 7 mmol/L are indicative of diabetes. Among the many medical problems associated with diabetes are kidney damage, heart disease, and eye problems.
Maintaining low blood glucose levels requires medication, regular visits to the doctor, a well-balanced diet and exercise. However, problems with maintaining a low blood sugar become difficult when both individuals and providers are not proactive in treating the condition.
The study found that the number of adults rose from 153 million in 1980. The authors stated that 70 percent was due to population growth while the remaining 30 percent was due to a higher prevalence rate.
“Unless we develop better programs for detecting people with elevated blood sugar and helping them to improve their diet and physical activity and control their weight,” says Dr. Goodarz Danaei, from the Harvard School of Public Health, “Diabetes will inevitably continue to impose a major burden on health systems around the world.”
The report has been published in the latest issue of the Lancet.
Eureka Press Release, June 25, 2011
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