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The world needs a healthier diet to halt the type 2 diabetes epidemic

diabetes healthy global diet
diabetes healthy global diet

Dr. Petra Wilson

CEO, International Diabetes Federation

The health status of the world’s diet is poor, and we are all paying for it. Research from the IDF Diabetes Atlas estimates that every 6 seconds one person dies from diabetes. Yet, many of these 5 million lives could have been saved.

As a result of high sugar consumption and increased rates of obesity worldwide, people everywhere are at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes.  How can we ignore the benefits of disease prevention through nutrition in a world where 70 per cent of type 2 diabetes cases are largely preventable with a through healthy diet and other lifestyle changes?

A healthy diet, defined as one low in sugar, salt and saturated fat, can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and reduce complications in people with all types of diabetes.  While type 2 diabetes can be prevented with a healthy diet, it is well accepted that all types of diabetes can be more effectively managed when healthy eating is prioritized.

Today, 415 million people live with type 1 and type 2 diabetes worldwide (1 in 11 people), a figure likely to increase by 55 per cent (642 million) unless national leaders take immediate action for preventive strategies emphasizing access for improved nutrition.

In the UK, IDF estimates that almost 3 million people have diabetes and that 1 million of these cases are yet to be diagnosed. In terms of cost, the UK spends the ninth highest amount on diabetes care in the world. This is equivalent to eight billion pounds per year.

This year, the International Diabetes Federation continues to reinforce our World Diabetes Day Healthy Eating campaign asking every nation, policy leader, healthcare provider, and citizen to halt the diabetes epidemic through a commitment to a healthier lifestyle.  Our call to action, making healthy eating a right, not just a privilege, is relevant to all countries, but especially to those at greatest risk in low- and middle-income countries, where 75 per cent of all diabetes cases exist.

The personal and public costs of diabetes are high.  Millions of lives continue to be destroyed by a disease that represents 12 per cent of the world’s health expenditure (USD 673 billion).  As healthcare costs rise dramatically, diabetes numbers grow with a ferocious terror, burdening healthcare systems, economies, families and individuals.

In support of our global effort to fight diabetes with healthier choices, World Diabetes Day is no longer a one-day event.  This year, we ask people to take a stand for healthy eating and improved diabetes care all year long, because better decision making is required of us all, every day.

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