The Global Rate of Diabetes Has Increased by 45 Percent During the Last 2 Decades

In the United States alone, however, the rate of diabetes has increased by 71 percent

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Around the world, obesity-related diabetes has become increasingly prevalent, but so has treatment. 

A study published this week in the British medical journal The Lancet reveals that the rate of diabetes has increased by nearly half between 1990 and 2013 — much of which is linked to a similar increase in the rate of obesity. 

The study, which was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and collected data from more than 35,000 sources of data in 188 countries, found that the overwhelming diagnosis for these populations was for Type 2 diabetes, which is typically linked to obesity.

Furthermore, that average of 45 percent was not indicative of the countries with the most at-risk populations — in the United States, the rate of diabetes increased by 71 percent.

Saudi Arabia’s rate increased by 60 percent, China’s by 56 percent, and Mexico’s diabetic population increased by 52 percent.

In terms of overall prevalence — how common the disease was among the population — Saudi Arabia had the highest percentage of people affected with 17,817 cases per 100,000 people in 2013.

The good news is that, as the disease becomes more common, medical care and medications have also become more sophisticated.

“On balance the burden is coming down — it’s better to be alive, even if you have disability,” Theo Vos, a professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, told The New York Times. “But the downside is that it requires much more health system resources to treat people with these chronic problems.”

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