Diabetes is a lifelong (chronic) disease in which there are high levels of sugar in the blood.
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas to control blood sugar. Diabetes can be caused by too little insulin, resistance to insulin, or both.
A recent study has found that the number of diabetes cases has soared to around 347 million, more than doubling over the past thirty years.
Since diabetes usually hits around middle age, most of the rise is due to the aging population and population growth, but some of the increase is due to mounting obesity rates.
Experts have reported that the disease is no longer just a problem in richer countries but is now a world-wide concern, since it is a growing obstacle just about everywhere.
Majid Ezzati, chair of global environmental health at Imperial College London and one of the study authors, said “diabetes may well become the defining issue of global health for the next decade.” He also brought up the fact that the numbers don’t take into account all the overweight children and young adults who haven’t reached middle age. This could later cause an immense burden on our health care systems. He claimed, “we are not at the peak of this wave yet and unlike high blood pressure and cholesterol, we still don’t have great treatments for diabetes.”
This said, in Britain and other places in Western Europe, in spite of increasing waistlines, there was just a small rise in diabetes. So far experts are not sure why this is and believe there could be many reasons such as inadequate detection of the disease, genetic differences or maybe that Europeans are better at helping overweight people decrease their chances of developing diabetes.
The most common type of diabetes is Type 2 and it is usually related to obesity. It emerges when the body isn’t able to make enough insulin to break down glucose, thus raising blood sugar levels. Diet, exercise and medication can help manage the disease, but dangerously high blood sugar damages nerves, which can result in kidney disease, amputation and even blindness.
To acquire their estimate, Ezzati and his colleagues examined over 150 national health surveys and studies tracking Type 2 diabetes in adults over 25 in 199 countries and territories. They figured that there were around 347 million people with diabetes around the globe. An earlier study in 2010, that used different methods, estimated there were 285 million with diabetes. There were 153 million found in 1980, but these figures came with a large margin of error, which ranged from 314 to 382 million.
Doctors are concerned that the higher inclinations of some groups such as Asians, black and Hispanics to diabetes, could substantially escalate rates in the future. Although this is very disheartening, some doctors and researchers are optimistic that the depressing trend could possibly be reversed. Michelle Obama’s fight against childhood obesity is one step in the right direction.