Diabetes Cases Projected to Skyrocket to 1.3 Billion by 2050

Diabetes Cases Projected to Skyrocket to 1.3 Billion by 2050

The world in another thirty years would see an alarming rise in diabetes with about 1.3 billion people of all ages living with diabetes.

The number of people with diabetes worldwide is expected to more than double from 529 million in 2021 to 1.3 billion by 2050. Population growth, aging, and changes in diet and lifestyle leads to such a frightening figure, said a recent study published in Lancet.


The study found that the highest rates of diabetes are expected to be in North Africa and the Middle East, where the prevalence is projected to reach 16.8% by 2050. Other regions with high rates of diabetes include Latin America and the Caribbean, South Asia, and East Asia.


The latest and most comprehensive calculations show the current global prevalence rate is 6.1%, making diabetes one of the top ten leading causes of death and disability. At the super-region level, the highest rate is 9.3% in North Africa and the Middle East, and that number is projected to jump to 16.8% by 2050. The rate in Latin America and the Caribbean is projected to increase to 11.3%.

Diabetes was especially evident in people 65 and older in every country and recorded a prevalence rate of more than 20% for that demographic worldwide. The highest rate was 24.4% for those between ages 75 and 79.


Almost all global cases (96%) are type 2 diabetes (T2D). High body mass index (BMI) was the primary risk for T2D – accounting for 52.2% of T2D disability and mortality – followed by dietary risks, environmental/occupational risks, tobacco use, low physical activity, and alcohol use.

“The rapid rate at which diabetes is growing is not only alarming but also challenging for every health system in the world, especially given how the disease also increases the risk for ischemic heart disease and stroke,” said lead author Dr. Liane Ong. He is the lead research scientist at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. People believe T2D is simply associated with obesity, lack of exercise, and a poor diet, preventing. They also believe controlling diabetes is quite complex due to a number of factors. That includes someone’s genetics, as well as logistical, social, and financial barriers within a country’s structural system, especially in low- and middle-income countries.

“Some people might be quick to focus on one or a few risk factors. But that approach doesn’t take into account the conditions in which people are born and live that create disparities worldwide,” said Lauryn Stafford, second author and Post-Bachelor Fellow at IHME. “Those inequities ultimately impact people’s access to screening and treatment and the availability of health services. That’s precisely why we need a more complete picture of how diabetes has been impacting populations at a granular level.”


The authors recommend a number of strategies to address the global diabetes epidemic, including:

  • Investing in prevention programs, such as those that promote healthy eating and physical activity.
  • Improving access to diabetes care, including medication and insulin.
  • Reducing the risk factors for diabetes, such as obesity and smoking.
  • Raising awareness of diabetes and its complications.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded the study.


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