A new global study has found that the prevalence of diabetes will increase in every country in the world over the next 30 years if no action is taken. The study, led by researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, revealed that there are currently 529 million people worldwide with diabetes, with that number expected to double to about 1.3 billion people by 2050.
The majority of cases are type 2 diabetes, a disease associated with obesity that is largely preventable. However, the increase in global prevalence has not been uniform, with some countries and regions being hit particularly hard. For example, the prevalence is projected to reach 16.8% in North Africa and the Middle East, and 11.3% in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2050, while the global prevalence is estimated at 9.8%. The current prevalence rate is 6.1 percent. The researchers emphasize that every country will be affected by this rapid growth of diabetes.
This increase in the number of people with diabetes not only poses a concern but also a challenge for every health system worldwide. Diabetes is linked to many other heart diseases, such as heart disease and stroke. The rise in cases is partly due to an increase in obesity and demographic changes, with studies showing that the prevalence is higher among older people. The study did not take into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic because those numbers were not yet available.
The study, which was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is part of a series on diabetes published in the Lancet medical journal. The series calls for more effective mitigation strategies and awareness of inequities, as most people with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries and do not have access to appropriate treatment. It is essential to take action now to prevent the further spread of diabetes and to improve the quality of life for those affected by this disease.