New estimate of more than three million diabetes-related deaths every year

3.2 million deaths can be attributed to diabetes each year according to a new publication released today by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) to mark the launch of their joint programme "Diabetes Action Now". Updated estimates suggest that six deaths are attributable to diabetes or related conditions somewhere in the world every minute, a figure three times higher than previous calculations. 

"Diabetes is a major threat to global public health that is rapidly getting worse and the biggest impact is on adults of working age in developing countries," said Dr Catherine Le Galès-Camus, WHO Assistant-Director General, Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health. "In most developing countries at least one in ten deaths in adults aged 35 to 64 is attributable to diabetes, and in some the figure is as high as one in five." Diabetes has become one of the major causes of premature illness and death in most countries, mainly through the increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Diabetes Action Now is supported by a World Diabetes Foundation grant to the International Diabetes Federation and WHO funds. The purpose of “Diabetes Action Now” is to raise awareness about diabetes and stimulate and support the adoption of effective measures for the management and prevention of the condition in low- and middle-income countries and communities. "Diabetes can be effectively managed and the risk of developing complications reduced substantially", said Professor Pierre Lefèbvre, President of the International Diabetes Federation. "Simple lifestyle adjustments such as a healthy diet and physical activity, often combined with medication, have been shown to be effective in promoting a full and healthy life with diabetes. In many cases, type 2 diabetes – accounting for over 90% of all cases of diabetes – can be prevented through lifestyle interventions alone."

Diabetes is a common condition and its frequency is dramatically rising all over the world. In 2000, there were 171 million people with diabetes worldwide, and by 2030 this figure is expected to more than double, to reach a total of 366 million. Most of this increase will occur as a result of a 150% rise in developing countries. For example, in India there were approximately 32 million people with diabetes in 2000, but by 2030 this number is expected to increase to almost 80 million. These figures appear in the booklet “Diabetes Action Now”, which contains details about the WHO-IDF programme, key facts and figures about diabetes, and profiles and statements from people with diabetes around the world. The booklet is available in print or via the web site at www.who.int/diabetes .

For further information please contact: Amanda Marlin, World Health Organization, Geneva. Tel + 41 22 791 2443, ([email protected]), Anne Pierson or Lorenzo Piemonte, International Diabetes Federation, Brussels. Tel + 322 543 1623, ([email protected], [email protected]).

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