from 529 to 1.300 million

The diabetes It is a chronic disease caused by a dysfunction of the pancreas that is not able to produce enough insulin, or because the body cannot efficiently use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that is responsible for regulating blood glucose, so in patients with uncontrolled diabetes, glucose or sugar levels increase and this generates long-term complications. In fact, and as the World Health Organization (WHO) warns: “Diabetes is one of the main causes of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, strokes and amputation of lower limbs.”

In actuality there are 529 million diabetics in the world, including people of both sexes and of all ages, but an analysis of studies published by The Lancet It is expected that the prevalence of the disease will increase in all countries and this figure will double in the next 30 years, so that in 2050 around 1.3 billion people could have diabetes if adequate preventive measures are not taken. The research was conducted by scientists at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington School of Medicine.

The global prevalence rate is 6.1% according to the most recent calculations, making diabetes one of the top 10 causes of death and disability. At the continent level, the highest rate is 9.3% in North Africa and the Middle East, and that figure is projected to reach 16.8% by 2050. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the rate is expected to increase to 11.3%.

“The rapid growth rate of diabetes is alarming and a challenge for all health systems, especially since the disease also increases the risk of ischemic heart disease and stroke”

The researchers analyzed the study data Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2021, to examine the prevalence, morbidity, and mortality of diabetes in 204 countries and territories by age and sex between 1990 and 2021, and predicted the prevalence of diabetes through 2050. They also provided estimates of type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. and quantified the proportion of the burden of type 2 diabetes attributable to 16 risk factors.

Prevent and control diabetes: risk factors to control

Diabetes was especially evident in people 65 years or older in all countries and recorded a prevalence rate of more than 20% for that age group worldwide. The highest rate was 24.4% for people aged 75-79. Looking at the data by macro region, North Africa and the Middle East had the highest rate at 39.4% in this age group, while Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia had the lowest rate at 19, 8%

Almost all global cases (96%) are type 2 diabetes (T2D); the 16 risk factors studied were associated with T2D. He high body mass index (BMI) was the main risk of type 2 diabetes –which represents 52.2% of disability and mortality from this type of diabetes–, followed by dietary risks, environmental/occupational risks, tobacco use, lack of physical activity and alcohol consumption.

“The rapid growth rate of diabetes is not only alarming, but also a challenge for all health systems around the world, especially since the disease also increases the risk of ischemic heart disease and stroke,” said the Dra. Liane Ong, lead author and Senior Research Scientist at IHME. “Although the general public might believe that type 2 diabetes is simply associated with obesity, lack of exercise, and poor diet, preventing and controlling diabetes is quite complex due to a number of factors. That includes a person’s genetics, as well as logistical, social, and financial barriers within the structural system of a country, especially in low- and middle-income countries.”

“Some people can quickly focus on one or a few risk factors, but that approach doesn’t take into account the conditions people are born into and live in that create disparities around the world,” he said. Lauryn Stafford, second author and IHME postgraduate fellow. “Those inequalities ultimately affect people’s access to screening and treatment and the availability of health services. This is precisely why we need a more complete picture of how diabetes has been affecting populations at a granular level.”

Fernando Gomez Peralta, Coordinator of the Diabetes Area of ​​the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition (SEEN) and head of the Endocrinology and Nutrition Unit at the General Hospital of Segovia, told SMC Spain that “it is very important to highlight the inequalities in the prediction of incidence and prevalence of diabetes mellitus by race, geographic location, and economic level, but it would be important to differentiate the impact that these inequalities have on incidence predictions from that on health outcomes. This is important because the reasons and the measures to be taken are different”.

Thus, he points out, “regarding the prediction of an increase in the prevalence of diabetes mellitus in Europe and in the richest countries, growth is fundamentally determined by the demographic structure and the increase in life expectancyincluding the population with diabetes: this is actually good news, but it forces us to design health policy strategies to increase the costs of managing this elderly population with diabetes and its complications”.

“In areas with low income and high population growth, the fundamental reason for the increase is due to changes in lifestyle, so the measures to reduce the new incidence are of health education and obesity prevention”. “Regarding the differences in health outcomes in relation to diabetes diabetes (differences in morbidity and mortality) by races/disadvantaged areas even in developed countries: specific proactive case finding strategies must be designed and racial differences in the treatment of diabetes must be studied”.


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