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Obesity is a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. Fiona Hanson/PA Wire

'Urgent need' for action as diabetes rate doubles in 30 years

The increase has been blamed on longer life-expectancy and western-style diets spreading across the world.

THE NUMBER OF people suffering from diabetes has doubled since 1980 according to an international study.

The number adults with diabetes has doubled from 153 million to 347 million since 1980 according to an analysis of data by scientists in the UK and the US which was published in The Lancet medical journal yesterday.

Statistical techniques were used to determine the rise based on analysis of data from some 2.7 million worldwide.

The authors of the report from Imperial College in London and Harvard University in the US said that 70 per cent of the rise was down to people living longer and called for better detection and treatment to combat the rise.

Diabeties is caused by too little insulin – a hormone produced by the pancreas to control blood sugar levels – being produced or a resistance to insulin. Diabetics therefore have poor blood sugar level control.

This can lead to heart disease, strokes and death. Kidneys, nerves and the retina in a person’s eyes can all be damaged by the condition.

Type 1 diabetes can be caused by genetics, viruses and auto-immune problems, whilst Type 2 diabetes is closely linked to obesity and is becoming more common due to increasing levels of obesity and failure to exercise.

The rise has been blamed by many on the increasing spread of a western-style diet and speaking to The Observer newspaper, Professor Majid Ezzati from Imperial College warned:

It is set to become the single largest burden on world health care systems.

Many nations are going to find it very difficult to cope with the consequences.

In an editorial published in The Lancet, Martin Tobias, from the ministry of health in New Zealand, said there was now “an urgent need” to establish proper monitoring of the disease worldwide.

The study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the World Health Organisation.

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