Diabetes cases worldwide could reach 1.3 billion by 2050, more than twice as many as in 2021, if effective strategies are not planned, a study published in The Lancet warns. Standardized rates of diabetes are expected to increase in all countries over the next three decades, the studies show. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines diabetes as a chronic disease characterized by high blood sugar levels that can lead to serious damage to the heart, blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.
The increase in cases of this disease is expected to be due to the rise in type 2 diabetes, which will be caused by the increased prevalence of obesity and demographic changes. In 2021, there were 529 million people with diabetes and type 2 diabetes accounted for 90% of the entire prevalence of this disease, which is also expected to account for the possible increase in cases, up to 1.3 billion, by 2050.
Diabetes remains one of the biggest public health threats of our time.Shivani Agarwal, professor at NY’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Structural racism suffered by minority ethnic groups, as well as inequality experienced by low- and middle-income countries are accelerating the rise in rates of diabetes, disease, and death around the world, The Lancet pointed out.
Diabetes rates among ethnic minority groups in high-income countries, such as the United States, are 1.5 times higher than in whites. In addition, death rates from this disease in low- and middle-income countries are twice as high as in high-income countries. The pandemic has also amplified inequality in diabetes, with people with diabetes 50% more likely to develop a serious infection and twice as likely to die, especially if they belong to ethnic minority groups.
“Diabetes remains one of the biggest public health threats of our time,” said Shivani Agarwal, associate professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, quoted by Euronews. “It is set to grow aggressively over the coming three decades in every country, age group, and sex, posing a serious challenge to healthcare systems worldwide.”
Estimates indicate that more than three-quarters of adults with diabetes will live in low- and middle-income countries by 2045, of whom fewer than 1 in 10 will receive guideline-based comprehensive care. The current global prevalence rate is 6.1%, making diabetes one of the top 10 causes of death and disability.
By region, the highest rate is 9.3% in North Africa and the Middle East, and is expected to rise to 16.8% by 2050, while in Latin America and the Caribbean it is estimated to grow to 11.3%. Diabetes was especially evident in people aged 65 and older in all countries, recording a prevalence rate of more than 20% for that demographic group worldwide.
Numbers from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, show that in 2019 more than 32. million adults were diagnosed with diabetes in the EU. In the same year, share of adults with diabetes in the block went from slightly above 10 per cent in Germany and 9.8 per cent in Portugal in 2019 to 3.2 per cent in Ireland and 3.8 per cent in Lithuania. The average for the EU was 6.2 per cent.