Diabetes Rates Increasing As Waistlines Grow

Anti-Aging Medicine
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Unhealthy lifestyles are significantly contributing to this escalating global health crisis that impacts men, women, and children of all ages across all countries. New projections suggest that the number of people affected by diabetes could more than double by 2050 to reach a staggering 1.3 million people due to the continued increasing obesity epidemic.

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that can triple the risks of having a heart attack and make it 20 times more likely for a patient to undergo a leg amputation. Over time having high blood sugar levels can lead to long-term, serious health consequences like heart disease, vision loss, nerve damage, stroke, and kidney disease. 

“The rapid rate at which diabetes is growing is not only alarming but also challenging for every health system in the world, especially given how the disease also increases the risk for ischemic heart disease and stroke,” says Dr. Liane Ong, lead author and Lead Research Scientist at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine.

Over a half billion people are estimated to be currently living with diabetes with 96% of those being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes which is linked to obesity which represents a five-fold increase since 1980 from approximately 108 million. Diabetes is now so prevalent that it has become one of the top 10 causes of death, and having a high BMI has been identified as a principal risk factor accounting for 52% of diabetes-related deaths and disabilities. In addition to being overweight, having a bad diet, smoking, alcohol use, being sedentary, and both environmental and occupational hazards are significant risk factors. 

“While the general public might believe that T2D is simply associated with obesity, lack of exercise, and a poor diet, preventing and controlling diabetes is quite complex due to a number of factors. That includes someone’s genetics, as well as logistical, social, and financial barriers within a country’s structural system, especially in low- and middle-income countries,” said Dr. Ong.

“Some people might be quick to focus on one or a few risk factors, but that approach doesn’t take into account the conditions in which people are born and live that create disparities worldwide,” said Lauryn Stafford, second author and Post-Bachelor Fellow at IHME. “Those inequities ultimately impact people’s access to screening and treatment and the availability of health services. That’s precisely why we need a more complete picture of how diabetes has been impacting populations at a granular level.”

In America, it is estimated that over 37 million people have diabetes which is 11.3% of the population, and of those 90% have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Close to 1.9 million people have Type 1 diabetes, which includes around 244,000 children and adolescents. Additionally, approximately 8.5 million people have undiagnosed diabetes according to the CDC and the American Diabetes Association. 

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