Posted at 03:27 PM ET, 09/13/2011

Diabetes cases now a ‘staggering’ 366 million


Children attend a weight-loss summer camp in 2009 in Liaoning Province, China. China has seen a growing number of diabetics amongst children and adolescents in its major cities. (ChinaFotoPress - GETTY IMAGES)
Two months ago, a Lancet journal study found that nearly 10 percent of the world’s adults have diabetes and that the prevalence of the disease was rising rapidly.

Now, we can put an exact number on just quickly the disease is gaining ground: The International Diabetes Federation has found that a “staggering” 366 million people have diabetes, and that one person is now dying from the disease every seven seconds.

The federation urged United Nations officials to commit to specific targets to prevent cases and invest in research and urged that diabetes care be integrated into local health clinics.

“The clock is ticking for the world’s leaders,” Jean Claude Mbanya, the federation’s president, said in a statement. “We expect action... that will halt diabetes’ relentlessly upwards trajectory.”

The federation released some other scary numbers: Diabetes causes 4.6 million deaths every year. Health systems spend $465 billion annually fighting the disease. If agencies were to spend $9 billion a year on tobacco control, food advice and basic treatments, it could avert tens of millions of deaths this decade.

Health officials say the causes of the spiking numbers lie in several places — aging populations, population growth and increasing inactivity and obesity in developing nations.

Obesity is a main factor of Type 2 diabetes, which develops when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to break down glucose, causing blood sugar levels to rise.

A Washington Post graphic allows readers to visually watch how the world has gained weight (and how the number of diabetes patients has increased) over time. See the interactive graphic here.


By  |  03:27 PM ET, 09/13/2011

 
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