Global Diabetes Institute

What is Global Diabetes?


Source: Hossain et al. NEJM 2007 (million people)

Source: Hossain et al. NEJM 2007 (million people) 

Global Diabetes Statistics

  • In 2013 there were 382 million people with diabetes worldwide. This number is expected to reach 592 million by 2035. 1 
  • The World Health Organization predicts that diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of mortality worldwide in 2030. 2 
  • The overall risk of death among people with diabetes is at least double the risk of those without diabetes. 3 
  • Low- and middle-income countries account for more than 80% of all deaths related to diabetes. 4 
  • Upwards of 65 million people in India had diabetes in 2013, accounting for 9.1% of the country’s total population. 5 
  • Approximately 625,000 individuals in Uganda had diabetes in 2013. 6  
  • Roughly 50% to 80% of all people with diabetes die of heart disease and stroke, 7 while diabetes is also predicted to be one the leading causes of kidney failure worldwide. 8 
  • Other common effects of diabetes include: neuropathy (nerve damage) in the feet and hands, ulceration of the feet, and retinopathy (eye damage) sometimes leading to blindness. 9 

Why is diabetes becoming an epidemic in developing countries?

Most new cases of diabetes globally are likely to be type 2 diabetes, in which the body’s resistance to its own insulin leads to high blood sugar levels.

The following factors may all be contributing:
  • Westernized diets and availability of cheap sugar and fat calories
  • Transition from agrarian to urban lifestyles
  • Genetics: non-Caucasian populations are at increased risk

Malnutrition Diabetes

In addition to types 1 and 2 diabetes, there is also a poorly understood form of diabetes called Malnutrition-Modulated, or “Lean”, Diabetes, affecting millions of malnourished children and young adults in developing countries.

Characteristics include:
  • Malnutrition at diagnosis and history of malnutrition as a child
  • Poor health outcomes, susceptible to severe diabetic complication
  • Family of patient always of rural origin and poor socioeconomic status
    Treatment: Most patients are prescribed insulin. Insulin is not a viable solution because of cost, perishability, and lack of availability. Even when it is available, consistent food often is not, leading to many deaths from low blood sugar.

It is alarming how little is known about this prevalent and devastating condition. Discovering safe and accessible treatments, such as dietary supplements and oral agents, could have tremendous impact on health and survival for millions of affected patients.

1. International Diabetes Federation. IDF Diabetes Atlas, 6th edn. Brussels, Belgium: International Diabetes Federation, 2013.
2. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2011.
3. Roglic G, Unwin N, Bennett PH, Mathers C, Tuomilehto J, Nag S et al. The burden of mortality attributable to diabetes: realistic estimates for the year 2000.Diabetes Care, 2005, 28(9):2130–2135.
4. Mathers CD, Loncar D. Projections of global mortality and burden of disease from 2002 to 2030. PLoS Med, 2006, 3(11):e442. 
5. Ramachandran A, et al. Diabetes in South-East Asia: An update for 2013 for the IDF Diabetes Atlas. Diabetes Res Clin Pract (2013). 
6. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2011.
7. Morrish NJ, Wang SL, Stevens LK, Fuller JH, Keen H. Mortality and causes of death in the WHO Multinational Study of Vascular Disease in Diabetes. Diabetologia2001, 44 Suppl 2:S14–S21. 
8. Global status report on noncommunicable diseases 2010. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2011.
9. Global data on visual impairments 2010. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2012.

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