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Prevalence of Diabetes in the World, 2013

on Mon, 11/18/2013 - 06:10
Diabetes is a chronic metabolic disease that occurs when the human body is not able to produce enough of the hormone insulin or because cells do not respond to the insulin that is produced. High blood sugar produces symptoms of frequent urination, increased thirst and hunger.
There are three main types of diabetes: 
  1. Type 1 diabetes results from the body's failure to produce insulin as a result of an auto-immune process with very sudden onset. People with this type of diabetes need insulin therapy to survive. This form was previously referred to as "insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus"
  2. Type 2 diabetes results from insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to use insulin properly, sometimes combined with an absolute insulin deficiency. This form was previously referred to as “non insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus”. It can go unnoticed and undiagnosed for a long time. Those people affected are unaware of the long-term damage being caused by the disease.
  3. Gestational diabetes occurs when pregnant women without a previous diagnosis of diabetes develop a high blood glucose level; it can lead to serious risks to the mothers and her infant and increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes later in life.
All types of diabetes should be treated under a close collaboration between patients and healthcare providers in order to prevent long-term complications such as damage to the eyes, kidney, feet and heart. People with diabetes must be treated to avoid early death.
The global prevalence of diabetes in adult population in 2013 is presented in this article. The estimated prevalence of diabetes in adult population (20-79 years old) and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) expressed in percentages are used as metrics. An interactive data visualization was designed to explore the data and communicate the findings. Data source is the Sixth edition of the International Diabetes Federation Atlas of Diabetes.  
Globally it is estimated that 382 million people suffer from diabetes for a prevalence of 8.3%. North America and the Caribbean is the region with the higher prevalence, 36,755 people with diabetes (11%) followed by the Middle East and North Africa with 34,571 people with diabetes (9.2%). Western Pacific regions, with 138,195 people with diabetes, is the region with higher number of people with diabetes, however its prevalence is 8.6%, close to the prevalence of the World. 
The top 10 countries with higher prevalence of diabetes are Tokelau (37.5%), Federated States of Micronesia (35%), Marshall Islands (34.9%), Kiribati (28.8%), Cook Islands (25.7%), Vanuatu (24%), Saudi Arabia (23.9%), Nauru (23.3%), Kuwait (23.1%) and Qatar (22.9%).
It is interesting to highlight that 35 out of 219 countries (16% of the total) has very high prevalence of diabetes, over 12%. These countries are located mainly in Western Pacific, and Middle East and North Africa regions.
Africa is the region with the lower prevalence of diabetes (4.9%), having the country Réunion (15.4%), Seychelles (12.1%) and Gabon (10.7%) as the top three countries with higher prevalence and 10 out of 48 countries with prevalence of diabetes over upper quartile (6.3%) prevalence.
Europe has 56,276 people with diabetes (8.5%) having Turkey in upper extreme of prevalence of diabetes with 14.9%, four percentage points higher that Montenegro (ranked #2) with 10.1% of prevalence. 
In North America and Caribbean, Belize (15.9%), Guyana (15.8%) and Curacao (14.5%) are the top three countries with the higher prevalence of diabetes. At the same time, this region presents the highest values of prevalence of IGT with a median of 12%.
The scatter plot at the bottom-right side of the visualization shows the relationship between IGT prevalence and Diabetes prevalence. It is perceptible that globally, countries with high prevalence of diabetes tend to have higher IGT prevalence (see those countries located at the top-right quadrant)    
The magnitude and geographic distribution of the prevalence of diabetes mellitus in the World is heterogeneous, having Tokelau with a prevalence of 37.9%, almost 24 times higher than the prevalence of Mali (1.6%), the country with the lower prevalence of diabetes.
The information presented briefly in this article demonstrates the relevance of diabetes, one of the fastest-growing health problem in the World, which is reaching epidemic proportion in some regions, as consequence of life-style, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, obesity and overweight. 
People throughout the World are encouraged to learn about risks and warning signs of diabetes, to take actions to prevent the disease and seek healthcare in case they develop diabetes.
Diagnosis of diabetes is both a personal and health system and services responsibility. Diabetes risk assessment and testing most be integrated into primary health care with universal health coverage.  


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Russian Sphinx's picture

Colour legend being a chart is a perfect idea

Ian's picture

Great article, but I have read that UAE has one of the highest rates of diabetics. Or, are the stats blended together with Saudi Arabia?

[linked remove by editor]

martiner's picture

Dear Ian,
Thanks for your comment.
Estimates of diabetes prevalence from International Diabetes Federation (IDF), as displayed in the data visualization, confirm that United Arab Emirates (UAE) has one of the highest prevalence rate. UAE is ranked #15 with prevalence of diabetes of 18.9% and it is in the group of countries (35 countries) with prevalence rate higher than 12%.
However, Saudi Arabia has a higher rate (23.9%) that UAE (18.9%). UAE data is not blended with Saudi Arabia
Xavier Vela's picture

I would like to know what will be the best way to reference this article for future research studies.


martiner's picture

Thanks Xavier for your comment.


Martinez R. Prevalence of Diabetes in the World, 2013. Health Intelligence. 2013 Nov 18.

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