The major burden of diabetes falls on the developing world where it threatens not only to subvert the gains of economic development but also the gains brought about by international humanitarian programmes addressing the UN Millennium Development Goals. Prevention of diabetes is essential. To do nothing is not an option and is morally indefensible.
The new mission statement of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) to ‘promote diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide’ signalled its readiness to become more active on the world scene in a broader range of issues without foregoing any of its commitment to be a strong advocate for people with diabetes.
The third edition of the Diabetes Atlas provides stark new figures on the extent of the global burden of diabetes, which highlights the need to continue the fight against diabetes. The data confirm beyond all doubt that the diabetes epidemic is real and that its magnitude is larger than previous projections had anticipated. There are now over 240 million adults with diabetes worldwide, representing 6% of the adult population and the numbers are increasing by seven million per year. It is projected that by 2025 there will be nearly 380 million adults worldwide living with diabetes.
Far from being regarded simply as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes is responsible for as many deaths as HIV/AIDS annually (3.8 million) and clearly deserves greater recognition as a major disease in itself. The data indicate that diabetes is responsible for a million lower limb amputations each year and is a major cause of kidney failure and blindness. Its direct healthcare costs are huge and its indirect costs much greater.
The Diabetes Atlas reveals that the major burden of diabetes falls on the developing world where it threatens not only to subvert the gains of economic development but also the gains brought about by international humanitarian programmes addressing the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Furthermore, the data show that type 2 diabetes is not only a disease of the elderly but that it is now affecting younger age groups. Even children and adolescents are being diagnosed with this form of diabetes and far from being a simple ‘touch of sugar’, type 2 diabetes in the young is proving to be as serious as type 1 diabetes. In Japan type 2 diabetes in young adolescents is now four to eight times more common than type 1 diabetes. Microvascular complications such as retinopathy are as frequent and as severe as in type 1 diabetes, and the risks for nephropathy and cardiovascular disease are both significantly greater.