Diabetes cases are at 366 million worldwide; some experts say obesity and… (Zbigniew Bzdak / MCT )
Diabetes isn't just a problem in the U.S.--about 366 million people worldwide have the disease, says the International Diabetes Federation.
In addition, 4.6 million deaths are attributed to diabetes, and healthcare spending has grown to a staggering $465 billion.
The figures were released Tuesday in Lisbon, Portugal, at a meeting of the Assn. for the Study of Diabetes, in advance of the United Nations Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases Monday and Tuesday in New York. The IDF, an umbrella group of more than 200 national diabetes associations in over 160 countries, will release its Global Diabetes plan this weekend, outlining steps to combat the diabetes epidemic. The entire Diabetes Atlas, which includes breakdowns by region, will be available in November.
"IDF's latest atlas data are proof indeed that diabetes is a massive challenge the world can no longer afford to ignore," said IDF President Jean Claude Mbanya in a news release. Mbanya, professor of medicine and endocrinology at the University of Yaounde I in Cameroon, added: "In 2011, one person is dying from diabetes every seven seconds. The clock is ticking for the world's leaders -- we expect action from their high-level meeting next week at the United Nations that will halt diabetes' relentlessly upwards trajectory."
There is reason to be concerned. Last month the journal the Lancet released a study that used past obesity trends in the U.S. and the U.K. to predict what could happen if rates continue to climb. By 2030 there could be more than 8 million cases of diabetes in the U.S., along with a 50% obesity rate.
Another 2011 Lancet study reported that the rates of Type 2 diabetes have more than doubled worldwide since 1980, going from about 153 million cases to about 347 million in 2008. Researchers attributed about 70% of the growth to population aging, and the other 30% to the increase in obesity.