The Global Burden of Diabetes

September 26, 2019

In recent decades, the number of people living with diabetes worldwide has surged dramatically. Diabetes is a disease that affects people of diverse backgrounds. The global burden of diabetes refers to the impact of the disease on society as measured by complications rates, early death, financial cost, and other indicators.

What You Need to Know: 10 Key Facts

  1. Between 1980 and 2014, the number of adults with diabetes worldwide quadrupled. More than 400 million people in the world (about 1 in 11) have diabetes. Of great concern is the fact that the rate of people with prediabetes (when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes) continues to rise.
  1. More than 1 million children and adolescents in the world have type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes in children is also increasing rapidly, especially among youth from minority racial and ethnic groups.
  1. In the United States in 2015, about 30 million (or 9.4% of the population) had diabetes, and 84 million adults had prediabetes. About one-quarter of U.S. adults with type 2 diabetes and more than three-quarters of those with prediabetes do not realize they have the condition.
  1. African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and Asian Americans are much more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
  1. Diabetes is quickly becoming a problem among older adults. About three-quarters of U.S. adults aged 65 years and older have diabetes or prediabetes.
  1. Type 2 diabetes is expensive to treat. Persons with diabetes spend over twice as much on medical treatment as those without diabetes. The United States spends more than $300 billion a year treating patients with diabetes — more money than any other nation in the world. One of every four U.S. healthcare dollars goes to caring for people with diabetes.
  1. Cardiovascular disease (including heart disease and stroke) is the primary cause of death in diabetes. Diabetes results in more deaths than AIDS and breast cancer combined and is one of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States.
  1. Diabetes is a worldwide problem, with the greatest number of people with diabetes living in China and India. Diabetes is also a growing problem in the Middle East, where a particularly high percentage of the population has diabetes.
  1. As the number of people with diabetes continues to rise globally, the burden of complications related to diabetes will also increase, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
  1. Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, kidney disease, nerve damage, and amputations. Almost half of all new cases of kidney failure occur in people with diabetes. But with good blood glucose levels and self-management, many of these complications are preventable.

What Does It All mean?

  • Many individuals with type 2 diabetes (and prediabetes) are undiagnosed, presenting a challenge to reducing this disease’s burden on society.
  • Diabetes is costly, with expenses that are potentially avoidable with proper treatment.
  • Ethnic minorities are more likely to develop diabetes, and the rates of diabetes are rising rapidly, especially in low -and middle-income countries, making diabetes a global concern.
  • Programs that increase the awareness of diabetes and its complications and provide resources for treatment are vital to improving population health.

Dr. Mark Corriere is a clinical endocrinologist at Maryland Endocrine in Columbia. He is also an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism and a member of CAs Medical Advisory Board.

This excerpt is taken from “Diabetes Head to Toe: Everything You Need to Know about Diagnosis, Treatment, and Living with Diabetes” by Dr. Rita Kalyani, Dr. Mark Corriere, Dr. Thomas Donner, and Dr. Michael Quartuccio. This book is available for order at Published by Johns Hopkins University Press © 2018. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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