Professor Nam H. Cho
President, The International Diabetes Federation
The global increase of diabetes prevalence is a major wake-up call. The huge social-economic impact of the condition cannot be ignored. Acting now will protect individuals and their families.
New figures released today to mark World Diabetes Day estimate that the number of people with diabetes globally will increase to 578 million over the next decade. One in ten people are now living with diabetes, making the condition a concern for every family.
With the rising healthcare and societal costs associated with diabetes – USD 760 billion in direct medical costs alone in 2019 – we must think about how the increasing prevalence of diabetes, Type 2 in particular, can be slowed down, and, hopefully, reversed.
The unknown enemy
Around 10% of people living with diabetes have Type 1 diabetes. This Type has to be treated with insulin and there is currently no way to prevent it. This leaves around 90% with Type 2 diabetes, which can often be prevented. This gives us hope that the growing epidemic can be halted. The challenge, however, lies in the relatively low awareness of the condition.
Globally, one in two people currently living with diabetes remain undiagnosed.
Despite its rising prevalence, Type 2 diabetes often flies under the radar. Onset can be slow and the warning signs and symptoms mild or absent. Globally, one in two people currently living with diabetes remain undiagnosed and many are diagnosed late when complications are already present.
When diabetes is left untreated, or people with diabetes are not adequately supported, they are at risk of serious health issues. Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, lower-limb loss, heart attack, stroke and kidney failure. In the UK alone, it is estimated that nearly half a million people living with diabetes are undiagnosed and are therefore at risk of these life-threatening complications.
Anyone could be at risk
Diabetes impacts all age groups, regardless of geography and income. Any person can develop the condition, but some people are more susceptible than others. That is why we are urging people to learn about their risk of Type 2 diabetes and seek the advice of a healthcare professional if required. By answering a few simple questions about yourself and your lifestyle, such as dietary and exercise habits, you can quickly discover whether you could be at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Greater awareness of the risk factors and an increased focus on education is key to help individuals take action to reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes and avoid serious health issues.
We all have a role to play in protecting ourselves and our family members from developing Type 2 diabetes. To mark World Diabetes Day today, we encourage everyone to learn more about diabetes and the simple action that can be taken to protect the health of individuals and families. Start by visiting https://www.worlddiabetesday.org.