Diabetes is a chronic disease, which occurs when the body organ called pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. This leads to an increased concentration of glucose in the blood (hyperglycaemia). Basically diabetes is:
Type 1 diabetes (previously known as insulin-dependent or childhood-onset diabetes) is characterized by a lack of insulin production.
Type 2 diabetes, formerly called non-insulin-dependent or adult-onset diabetes, is caused by the body’s ineffective use of insulin. It often results from excess body weight and physical inactivity.
Gestational diabetes is hyperglycaemia that is first recognized during pregnancy.
Worldwide there are more than 371 million people diagnosed with diabetes and sadly half the people who might be suffering from diabetes are not aware that they have the disease.
In 2012, more than 4.8 million people died from diabetes related diseases and over US$ 471 billion was spent on diabetes management. Half the people who died from diabetes were under the age of 60.
There were an estimated 151 million women with diabetes and this number is expected to rise to 275 million by 2030.
The top five countries for people with diabetes in 2012 were: China (92 million), India (43 million), USA (24 million), Brazil and Russian Federation (12 million). Kuwait, which is among the top five countries with a prevalence for diabetes had nearly 24 percent of the population in the age group 20 to 79 diagnosed with diabetes. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain all have populations with over 22 percent prevalence of diabetes.
Risk Factors: The risk factors for type 1 diabetes are still being researched. However, having a family member with type 1 diabetes slightly increases the risk of developing the disease. Environmental factors and exposure to some viral infections have also been linked to the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
Several risk factors have been associated with type 2 diabetes and include:
Family history of diabetes
High blood pressure
Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT)*
History of gestational diabetes
Poor nutrition during pregnancy
Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT) is a category of higher than normal blood glucose, but below the threshold for diagnosing diabetes.
Changes in diet and physical activity related to rapid development and urbanization have led to sharp increases in the numbers of people developing diabetes.
Pregnant women who are overweight, have been diagnosed with Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT), or have a family history of diabetes are all at increased risk of developing Gestational diabetes (GDM). In addition, having been previously diagnosed with gestational diabetes or being of certain ethnic groups puts women at increased risk of developing GDM.
Diabetes is also a leading cause of blindness, amputation and kidney failure, brought about by a lack of awareness combined with limited access to health services and medicines
Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes: Individuals can experience different signs and symptoms of diabetes, and sometimes there may be no signs.
Some of the signs commonly experienced include:
Lack of interest and concentration
A tingling sensation or numbness in the hands or feet
Vomiting and stomach pain (often mistaken as the flu)
The development of type 1 diabetes is usually sudden and dramatic while the symptoms can often be mild or absent in people with type 2 diabetes, making this type of diabetes hard to detect.
If you show these signs and symptoms, consult a health professional.
How can the burden of type 2 diabetes be reduced?
Simple lifestyle measures have been shown to be effective in preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes.
To help prevent type 2 diabetes and its complications, people should: Achieve and maintain healthy body weight
Be physically active – at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days. More activity is required for weight control.
Eat a healthy diet of between three and five servings of fruit and vegetables a day and reduce sugar and saturated fats intake
Avoid tobacco use – smoking increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Things you need to know about diabetes
The burden of diabetes is increasing globally, particularly in developing countries. The causes are complex, but are in large part due to rapid increases in overweight, obesity and physical inactivity.
Although there is good evidence that a large proportion of cases of diabetes and its complications can be prevented by a healthy diet, regular physical activity, maintaining a normal body weight and avoiding tobacco, this evidence is not widely implemented.
Diabetes is predicted to become the seventh leading cause of death in the world by the year 2030. Total deaths from diabetes are projected to rise by more than 50 percent in the next 10 years.
Type 2 diabetes is much more common than type 1 diabetes. It accounts for around 90 percent worldwide. Reports of type 2 diabetes in children have increased worldwide.
Cardiovascular disease is responsible for 50 to 80 percent of deaths in people with diabetes. Diabetes has become one of the major causes of premature death, mainly through the increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Four out of five people or nearly 80 percent of diabetes deaths occur in low and middle- income countries. In developing countries those most frequently affected are aged between 35 and 64.
Coordinated action is needed from the level of international and national policy to reduce exposure to the known risk factors for diabetes and to improve access to and quality of care.
371 million people worldwide have diabetes. There is an emerging global epidemic of diabetes that can be traced back to rapid increases in overweight, obesity and physical inactivity.
In 2012, more than 4.8 million people died from diabetes related diseases.
There were an estimated 151 million women with diabetes.