By Charlie G ❘ 2011

Diabetes statistics & facts

It seems to me that most people are totally unaware of diabetes facts. It is shocking how many people actually suffer from diabetes in the world today. The prevalence of diabetes is increasing rapidly especially in developing countries like China and India. The WHO (World Health Organization) attributes this partly to increased obesity, changes in traditional eating habits and a more sedentary lifestyle (you can also read my post “The 21+1 Causes of Diabetes“). If diabetes statistics continue at their present levels of acceleration, the WHO predict diabetes will be the 7th leading cause of death in the entire world within 20 years.

Here are 9 diabetes facts you should keep in mind:


Diabetes Fact #1: In 2010, there were an estimated 346 Million people suffering from diabetes worldwide according to the WHO. Of these, 25.8 million live in the USA. The USA ranks number 3 in the world for countries with the highest prevalence of diabetes. There were over 2 million new cases of diabetes confirmed in the USA in 2010. Of these, nearly a quarter of a million were children and young people under the age of 20 years.

Diabetes Fact #2: Prevalence by type: There are two major types of diabetes.

  • Insulin dependent or Type 1 diabetes is caused by insufficient amounts of insulin being produced. Officially, there is no preventative measure for Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes usually becomes evident in childhood or in young adulthood. It is the most severe type of diabetes.
  • In the non-insulin dependant diabetes or Type 2 Diabetes, the body produces insulin, but uses it ineffectively. The non-insulin dependant group is by far the largest group. Approximately 90% of all diabetes sufferers are Type 2 diabetics. Type 2 diabetes occurred traditionally in older people, but the worrying fact now is that younger people and even children are suffering from Type 2 diabetes. The consens now is that Type 2 diabetes occurs predominantly in people with incorrect eating habits, obesity and those who lack exercise.
  • A third type of Diabetes is the gestational diabetes. In these cases, blood sugar levels are raised during pregnancy. The blood sugar levels usually revert to normal after the baby is born. Gestational diabetes could be a precursor for developing Type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes Fact #3: There are many millions of diabetics who have never been diagnosed. In USA the figure is estimated at 7 million. In poorer countries, specially if they copy the more industrialized lifestyle, where there are often no facilities for diagnosis or treatment, the numbers could be much higher.

Diabetes Fact #4: Ethnicity does play a role in your chances of suffering from diabetes. In USA the Hispanic Puerto Rican group have the highest prevalence at 13.8% and the non-Hispanic white group the lowest at 7%.

Diabetes Fact #5: Diabetes has many health consequences, especially when blood sugar levels are not kept under control. Diabetic sufferers are very prone to develop the following illnesses if not controlled:

  • Heart disease causes more than 50% of premature deaths in diabetic sufferers (WHO)
  • High blood pressure is extremely common in overweight Type 2 diabetics.
  • Dental and oral problems and fungal infections occur frequently.
  • Raised blood sugar levels affect the eyes and might cause blindness.
  • Goat and problems with kidney.
  • …and the list can go on and on…

Diabetes Fact #6: Diabetes is the number one cause of kidney disease and kidney failure. Almost half of the cases of kidney failure are diabetics. Many of these can end up needing dialysis if sugar is not controlled. Life quality and span are adversely affected.

Diabetes Fact #7: Diabetes causes damage to the nervous system. More than half of all amputations are as a result of diabetes. More than half of all diabetic patients suffer from neuropathy in some form, usually in the limbs. Some of the common symptoms experienced are, pain, numbness, lack of strength or ‘pins and needles’.

Diabetes Fact #8: Treating and living with diabetes, is very costly, both to yourself in terms of lost work, medical expenses and much more, but also to the State in the form of health care and Disability Grants. People suffering from diabetes cost the Government more than twice as much as people without diabetes.

Diabetes Fact #9: Large numbers of diabetes sufferers and complications could have been prevented very simply by:

  • maintaining a healthy body weight
  • eating a healthy diet with fresh fruit and vegetables and avoiding highly refined, fatty, fried and processed foods, sodas…
  • following a regular exercise program
  • avoiding tobacco and high alcohol consumption
  • early diagnosis (if you then do the things mentioned above)

I think it is good thing to be aware of diabetes facts. Although they can be depressing at first sight, they can also be the motivation to do something different to what we have always done in terms of health.

It is just as important to make up your mind you are not going to be part of these diabetes statistics while you are healthy. Prevention is far better (and cheaper) than cure.

Diabetes facts should act both as a warning and as a motivation for a healthier lifestyle.

Photo: IDF Diabetes Atlas


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