10 facts about diabetes:
The number of people with diabetes has nearly quadrupled since 1980. Prevalence is increasing worldwide, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. The causes are complex, but the rise is due in part to increases in the number of people who are overweight, including an increase in obesity, and in a widespread lack of physical activity.
Diabetes of all types can lead to complications in many parts of the body and increase the risk of dying prematurely. In 2012 diabetes was the direct cause of 1.5 million deaths globally. A large proportion of diabetes and its complications can be prevented by a healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use
- The number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.
- The global prevalence of diabetes* among adults over 18 years of age has risen from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014.
- Diabetes prevalence has been rising more rapidly in middle- and low-income countries.
- Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation.
- In 2012, an estimated 1.5 million deaths were directly caused by diabetes and another 2.2 million deaths were attributable to high blood glucose.
- Almost half of all deaths attributable to high blood glucose occur before the age of 70 years. WHO projects that diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in 2030.
- Healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco use are ways to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
- Diabetes can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with diet, physical activity, medication and regular screening and treatment for complications.
The prevalence of diabetes has been steadily increasing for the past 3 decades, mirroring an increase in the prevalence of obesity and overweight people. In particular, the prevalence of diabetes is growing most rapidly in low- and middle-income countries.
An additional 2.2 million deaths were caused in the same year by higher-than-optimal levels of blood glucose, through an increased risk of cardiovascular and other diseases. Even when blood glucose levels are not high enough to warrant a diagnosis of diabetes damage can occur to the body.The risk of cardiovascular disease rises as blood glucose levels rise.
Fact 3: There are 2 major forms of diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes is characterized by a lack of insulin production and type 2 diabetes results from the body’s ineffective use of insulin. While type 2 diabetes is potentially preventable, the causes and risk factors for type 1 diabetes remain unknown, and prevention strategies have not yet been successful.
Fact 4: A third type of diabetes is gestational diabetes.
Gestational diabetes is characterized by hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, with values above normal but below those diagnostic of diabetes, during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery. They and their children are also at increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the future.
Type 2 accounts for the majority of cases of diabetes worldwide. Higher waist circumference and higher body mass index (BMI) are associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, though the relationship may vary in different populations. Reports of type 2 diabetes in children – previously rare – have increased worldwide.
A series of cost-effective interventions can help people diagnosed with diabetes manage their condition. These interventions include: blood glucose control through a combination of diet, physical activity and, if necessary, medication; control of blood pressure and lipids to reduce cardiovascular risk and other complications; and regular screening for damage to the eyes, kidneys and feet, to facilitate early treatment.
Fact 7: Early diagnosis and intervention is the starting point for living well with diabetes
The longer a person lives with undiagnosed and untreated diabetes, the worse their health outcomes are likely to be. Basic technologies such as blood glucose measurement should be readily available in primary health-care settings.
In general, primary health-care practitioners in low-income countries do not have access to the basic technologies needed to help people with diabetes properly manage their disease. Access to essential medicines (including life-saving insulin) and technologies is limited in low- and middle-income countries.
Diabetes of all types can lead to complications in many parts of the body and increase the overall risk of dying prematurely. Possible complications include heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, leg amputation (because of infected, non-healing foot ulcers), vision loss and nerve damage.
Fact 10: Type 2 diabetes can be prevented
Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days and a healthy diet can drastically reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.