WHO study: Diabetes cases reach 422 million worldwide

April 12, 2016

A World Health Organization (WHO) study published in The Lancet shows that the number of adults with diabetes has quadrupled worldwide in under four decades to 422 million, and the condition is fast becoming a major problem in poorer countries. In one of the largest studies to date of diabetes trends, the researchers said aging populations and rising levels of obesity across the world mean diabetes is becoming “a defining issue for global public health.”

The study used data from 4.4 million adults in different world regions to estimate age-adjusted diabetes prevalence for 200 countries. It found that between 1980 and 2014, diabetes has become more common among men than women, and rates of diabetes rose significantly in many low- and middle-income countries, including China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, and Mexico.

The study found that northwestern Europe has the lowest rates of diabetes among women and men, with age-adjusted prevalence lower than 4% among women and at around 5%–6% among men in Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, Belgium, and the Netherlands. No country saw any meaningful decrease in diabetes prevalence, it found.

The data also showed that half of adults with diabetes in 2014 lived in five countries—China, India, the United States, Brazil, and Indonesia. Rates more than doubled for men in India and China between 1980 and 2014.