Study Reveals the Shocking Truth of a 4-Fold Increase in Global Incidence of Diabetes

Low- and middle-income countries show the most rapid increase in diabetes in adults.


At the UN high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases, a goal was set to arrest the continuing rise in age-standardised prevalence of diabetes in the world. The year to achieve this target was 2025. The prevalence of diabetes in 2025 needed to be similar to those observed in 2010.

A non-communicable diseases (NCD) risk factor collaboration (NCD-RisC) was set up to analyze the trends of diabetes incidence throughout the world. The findings of this collaboration reveal the hard-core reality behind the global incidence of diabetes.

The study looked at data from studies on populations from 200 different countries and territories. The studies were obtained from the years between 1980 to 2014. The collaboration eventually performed statistical analyses of the data from 751 studies. The number of adults in these studies totaled to 4.372 million. The studies that were selected represented 146 countries in total.

Diabetes in adults has increased from 108 million to 422 million from 1980 to 2014. This is a 31.8% increase based on the combined factors of aging, population growth and prevalence.

In men, diabetes has increased globally from 4.3% in 1980 to 9% in 2014. In women, diabetes has increased globally from 5% in 1980 to 7.9% in 2014. 

Polynesia and Micronesia showed the highest increase in incidence of diabetes from 1980 to 2014 when standardized for age. There was a 15% increase in diabetes prevalence in both men and women in Polynesia and Micronesia. In fact, after standardizing the population for age, American Samoa showed the highest increase in diabetes incidence in 2014. There was nearly more than 25% increase in prevalence in American Samoa and certain other countries of Polynesia and Melanesia.

The increase in diabetes prevalence appears to be highest in Polynesia, Melanesia, Micronesia, Middle East and Northern Africa. Northwestern Europe shows a low prevalence of diabetes.

Western Europe may be the only region that may achieve the goal set for 2025 to maintain the global diabetes prevalence rates as in 2010.

When broken down by gender, 29 Western European countries will achieve the target goal set for 2025, in women. Similarly, just 9 Western European countries will achieve the target goal in men. There is a probability of 50% or more that this goal will be achieved in both men and women. Western Europe has not shown a dramatic increase in global prevalence of diabetes from 1980 to 2014.

However, the major rapid increase in diabetes prevalence has been observed in middle-income and low-income countries (e.g. Mexico, India, Indonesia, China, and Pakistan). Half of the diabetic adults in the world are found in Brazil, India, USA, China, and Indonesia.

In the US, diabetes prevalence has increased by 80% in men and 50% in women after adjusting for age. 

The study maintains that genetics, increased obesity, and lack of appropriate healthcare may be the cause for this alarming rise in diabetes in certain regions of the world.

From the current trends, it appears that the goal of achieving comparable 2010 diabetes prevalence rates in 2025 will not be possible unless appropriate preventive and management strategies are employed to address this situation. It is time for countries across the globe to rise up to the challenge of tackling the growing rise of diabetes. By implementing effective strategies to detect and control the disease, diabetes growth can be regulated.