Worldwide Diabetes Rate More Than Doubles Over The Past 30 Years

by Dr Sam Girgis on June 26, 2011

The worldwide number of adults with diabetes mellitus type 2 has more than doubled within the past 30 years.  The number of adults with type 2 diabetes has increased to over 347 million in 2008 compared to 153 million in 1980.  Researchers from the World Health Organization lead by Dr. Majid Ezzati used statistical methods to analyze the information obtained from surveys from 280 countries to obtain the results.  The findings were recently published online in the journal The Lancet.  The worldwide rate of type 2 diabetes was found to be 9.8% for adult men and 9.2% for adult women.  In 1980, the corresponding rate for men was 8.3% and for women was 7.5%.  Dietary factors, sedentary lifestyles, and an obesity epidemic have contributed to the rise in the worldwide diabetes rate.  The Marshall Islands had the world’s highest diabetes prevalence, where the disease occurred in 28.5% of the population.  The lowest diabetes prevalence was seen in Cambodia and the Netherlands.  In these nations, the diabetes prevalence was 5%.  The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the United States increased dramatically since 1980.  For men in the United States, the prevalence of diabetes was estimated to be 12.5% in 2008 compared to 6% in 1980.  For women in the United States, the prevalence of diabetes was estimated to be 9.5% in 2008 compared to 5% in 1980.  Central and eastern Europe, central Asia, and northern and sub-Saharan Africa showed the slowed rate of increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.  The authors wrote, “Glycaemia and diabetes are rising globally, driven both by population growth and ageing and by increasing age-specific prevalences. Effective preventive interventions are needed, and health systems should prepare to detect and manage diabetes and its sequelae”.  This is an alarming trend and more needs to be done to slow down the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the world.  Type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and limb amputation.  If the current trend is not reversed, diabetes will impose a tremendous burden upon both the health care systems and the people of the world.


Goodarz Danaei et al. “National, regional, and global trends in fasting plasma glucose and diabetes prevalence since 1980: systematic analysis of health examination surveys and epidemiological studies with 370 country-years and 2·7 million participantsThe Lancet, early online publication, 25 June 2011

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