Reports from the International Diabetes Federation indicate that diabetes prevalence is increasing significantly worldwide, led by countries with emerging or newly emerged economies.
Premature deaths from diabetes are decreasing worldwide, despite increasing prevalence, according to two reports from the International Diabetes Federation. Though this trend appears positive, current health system infrastructures and national prevention policies are insufficient. In fact, despite the decrease in mortality rates, someone dies from diabetes every 6 seconds.
Currently there are 382 million people living with diabetes worldwide, which equates to 8.3% of all adults. This number is expected to increase to 592 million in the next two decades.
Prevalence Increased Most in Emerging and Newly Emerged Economies
Rapid development and urbanization appear to be responsible for at least some of the increased prevalence, as the number of people living with diabetes in countries with emerging and newly emerged economies vastly outnumbers those in developed countries.
“A staggering 80% of people with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries, and the socially disadvantaged in any country are the most vulnerable to the disease, according to Sir Michael Hirst, President of IDF. “Today’s emerging diabetes hotspots include countries in the Middle East, Western Pacific, sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia where economic development has transformed lifestyles.”
The IDF scorecard analyzed data from six categories in order to arrive at a score for participating countries:
- National plans and policies (including prevention)
- Health systems and access to care
- Monitoring and surveillance systems
- Government budgeting and financing for diabetes
- Level of engagement and rights
- National adoption of the Global Monitoring Framework for non-communicable diseases (NCDs)
The Global Monitoring Framework was developed by the WHO to enable global tracking of progress in preventing and controlling NCDs (e.g., cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic lung diseases, and diabetes) and their key risk factors (e.g., the use of alcohol and tobacco products, physical activity levels, nutrition, pollution, etc.). Only 37 of the 104 countries that participated in the IDF scorecard survey have adopted the Global Monitoring Framework.
Diabetes Data by Region
The IDF scorecard survey revealed an overall decrease in mortality from diabetes associated with an increase in diabetes-related spending. Preventive nutrition and physical activity policies were lacking in most countries, with 28 of the 104 participating countries having no preventive nutrition policies whatsoever. The report grouped country scores by geographic region.
- Africa: In Africa, individuals under 60 years old accounted for more than three-quarters of all deaths from diabetes worldwide in 2013. The current diabetes prevalence is 4.9%, but the number of people with diabetes is expected to more than double in the next 20 years.
- Europe: The current diabetes prevalence in Europe is 8.5%, with the number of people with diabetes expected to increase by 20% in 20 years. Only five of the 24 European countries that participated in the IDF survey provide integrated diabetes self-management education.
- Middle East and North Africa: One in 10 people living in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have diabetes – a number that is expected to double in the next two decades. The IDF survey of MENA countries revealed that policies on marketing to children were either non-existent or not enforced. None of the 11 participating countries had integrated diabetes self-management education.
Looking at the GCC region, comparative diabetes prevalence (i.e., calculated using the age profile of the world population) was 21.9% in Bahrain, 23.1% in Kuwait, 14.5% in Oman, 19.8% in Qatar, 23.9% in Saudi Arabia, and 19.0% in the United Arab Emirates, according to the 2014 update to the IDF’s Diabetes Atlas.
- North America and Caribbean: Diabetes prevalence was 9.6% in the North America and Caribbean region, and the number of people with diabetes is expected to increase by more than 40% there in the next 20 years. As in other regions, governments face the challenge of finding funding for needed health services and the implementation of monitoring and prevention policies. In the United States, for example, although the prevalence is relatively high at 11.4%, the government has not adopted the Global Monitoring Framework. Although the US collects some data on diabetes incidence and obesity prevalence, it has no system in place for specifically monitoring indicators.
- South and Central America: In South and Central America, the diabetes prevalence is 8%, and the number of people with diabetes is expected to increase by 60% in the next two decades. None of the 15 countries participating in the IDF survey had integrated diabetes self-management education, and only one-third of them had preventive nutrition policies in place.
- Southeast Asia: Nearly one-fifth of all adults with diabetes in the world live in Southeast Asia, which has a regional diabetes prevalence of 8.2%. The number of people living in Southeast Asia with diabetes is expected to increase by 70% in the next 20 years, as urbanization continues and life expectancy increases.
- Western Pacific Region: In the Western Pacific Region, diabetes prevalence is 8.6%. The region is home to over one-third of all people living with diabetes worldwide. The number of people living with diabetes in this region is expected to increase 46% in the next 20 years. In the scorecard report, the IDF recommends that Western Pacific governments increase spending on health systems to handle the number of people living with – or on the road to – developing, diabetes.