Diabetes Prevalence Has Nearly Quadrupled Since 1980

The number of adults living with diabetes worldwide has nearly quadrupled from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.

The number of adults living with diabetes worldwide has nearly quadrupled from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released its “Global Report on Diabetes,” which emphasized a greater need for global attention, prevention, and treatment options for patients with diabetes.

Back in 1980, 4.7% of the global population had diabetes. By 2014, the disease’s prevalence had shot up to 8.5%.

Some of the other WHO report findings were:

  • More than 1 in 3 adults aged 18 years or older were overweight in 2014, and more than 1 in 10 were obese.
  • Lower limb amputation rates are 10 to 20 times higher for those with diabetes. Diabetic patients also face increased risks of complications like heart attack, stroke, blindness, and kidney failure.
  • Diabetes was responsible for 1.5 million deaths in 2012, and high blood glucose levels led to 2.2 million more deaths by exacerbating cardiovascular risks and other disease risks.
  • Many deaths associated with diabetes occur before age 70 and are often preventable.

Pharmacists can help their patients with diabetes manage their medications, participate in healthy lifestyle interventions, and get regularly screened for diabetes.

Exercising regularly, eating healthy, avoiding smoking, and controlling blood pressure and lipids are all effective methods to stave off type 2 diabetes, the WHO report stated. Implementing those policies and practices in areas that affect large populations such as schools, homes, and workplaces can reach a substantial number of individuals, the researchers suggested.

They added that governmental intervention or a whole-society approach is best to systematically affect change in diabetes prevalence.

“If we are to make any headway in halting the rise in diabetes, we need to rethink our daily lives: to eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain,” said WHO Director General Margaret Chan in a press release. “Even in the poorest settings, governments must ensure that people are able to make these healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose and treat people with diabetes.”

One key factor in effective diabetes management is access to affordable insulin, especially in low- and middle-income countries where diabetes prevalence is the highest and also growing at a faster rate than higher-income countries, the report stated.

Governments’ ability to control diabetes was assessed in a 2015 study and found to vary by region and income level. While many countries reported having national diabetes policies and practices in place to reduce diabetes risk factors, some countries lacked the funding and ability to implement those practices.

“There are no simple solutions for addressing diabetes, but coordinated, multicomponent intervention can make a significant difference,” the WHO report concluded. “Everyone can play a role in reducing the impact of all forms of diabetes. Governments, health care providers, people with diabetes, civil society, food producers and manufacturers, and suppliers of medicines and technology are all stakeholders. Collectively, they can make a significant contribution to halt the rise in diabetes and improve the lives of those living with the disease.”