Every country in the world will see rates of diabetes rise in the next 30 years without action, according to a new global study.
There are currently 529 million people in the world with diabetes, the study led by researchers at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington found. They projected that this will more than double to around 1.3 billion people by 2050.
The majority of the cases are type 2 diabetes, the form of the disease that is linked to obesity and largely preventable, the researchers said.
Global trends in diabetes
The increase in prevalence globally is not uniform: Some countries and regions are particularly badly hit. For example, prevalence rates are expected to reach 16.8% in North Africa and the Middle East and 11.3% in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2050, compared to an estimated 9.8% globally. Currently, the prevalence is 6.1%. But every country will be impacted, researchers said.
“The rapid rate at which diabetes is growing is not only alarming but also challenging for every health system in the world,” said Liane Ong, lead author of the paper, pointing out that the condition is linked to a number of other heart conditions such as heart disease and stroke.
The growing numbers of people with diabetes is in part driven by rising obesity, and in part by demographic shifts: Prevalence is higher among older adults, the study showed. The data from 204 countries does not take into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic because those numbers were not yet available, researchers said.
The study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is part of a wider series on diabetes published on Thursday in The Lancet medical journal. The series calls for more effective mitigation strategies and an awareness of inequality, with the majority of diabetes patients living in low- and middle-income countries and unable to access proper treatment.