The Diabetes Watch

The world is currently in the grip of a diabetes epidemic, with the number of type 2 diabetes cases more than doubling since 1980, to 347 million in 2008. Unfortunately, epidemiological surveillance of non-communicable diseases like diabetes is woefully inadequate to the scope of the public-health threat.

WELLINGTON – The world is currently in the grip of a diabetes epidemic. A recent major study by Majid Ezzati and colleagues from Imperial College London and Harvard University found that the number of adults with type 2 diabetes increased from an estimated 153 million in 1980 to 347 million in 2008. The number could be 370 million today.

Every region of the world is affected, although the epidemic is growing most rapidly in Oceania and least rapidly in East Asia. Globally, the type 2 diabetes epidemic has been growing in lockstep with rising obesity levels.

This is not surprising – an increase in body fat and a decrease in physical activity are the direct causes of type 2 (as opposed to type 1) diabetes. In fact, much of the health effects of obesity and physical inactivity are mediated through diabetes.

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