The diabetes pandemic: 422 million people are affected worldwide

Richard Laycock 7 April 2016

Waiting room

The World Health Organisation says 422 million people are suffering from Diabetes.

In time for World Health Day 2016 the World Health Organisation (WHO) dropped a bombshell with the release of its first "Global report on diabetes". Headlining the report: There was 422 million people around the world with diabetes in 2014.

To put that staggering figure in perspective that is roughly 17.5 times the population of Australia.

The 422 million diabetics is a far cry from the 108 million cases of diabetes in 1980. This represents an increase of 124.47%. By contrast, the global population has only increased approximately 62.82%, from 4.4bn to 7.2bn people, over the same period.

According to the WHO, the major factors driving this dramatic rise include overweight and obesity. The study found that in 2014 more than one in three adults were overweight, with one in ten being classified as obese.

WHO RegionPrevalence (%)Number (millions)
1980201419802014
African Region3.10%7.10%425
Region of the Americas5%8.30%1862
Eastern Mediterranean Region5.90%13.70%643
European Region5.30%7.30%3364
South-East Asia Region 4.1%8.60%1796
Western Pacific Region4.40%8.40%29131
Total14.70%8.50%108422

1 Totals include non-Member States.

Among the key findings from the "Global report on diabetes" were:

  • In 2014 there were 422 million adults (or 8.5% of the population) suffering from diabetes, compared with 108 million (4.7%) in 1980.
  • Diabetes is a leading cause of death around the world, with the majority of deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Diabetes has major health and socioeconomic impacts, especially in developing countries.
  • Diabetes can lead to blindness, heart attack, kidney failure, lower limb amputation and stroke.
  • Diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012.

Diabetes in Australia

Diabetes in Australia is on the rise and affects roughly 1.7 million Australians. Diabetes costs Australians an estimated $14.6bn per year.

According to Diabetes Australia, 280 Australians develop diabetes everyday, which is one person every five minutes. And the trend doesn't show any signs of slowing. New cases of type 2 diabetes steadily increased between the year 2000 and 2009.

In 2013, there were 2,323 new cases of type 1 diabetes in Australia, equating to 11 cases per 100,000 population.

The incidence rate for type 1 diabetes:

  • Is higher in males than females (12 compared with 9 per 100,000 population)
  • More than half (52%) of all new cases were for people under 18 years of age
  • Peaked at age 10–14 years (33 per 100,000 population)

Picture: Shutterstock

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