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Global and societal implications of the diabetes epidemic

Abstract

Changes in human behaviour and lifestyle over the last century have resulted in a dramatic increase in the incidence of diabetes worldwide. The epidemic is chiefly of type 2 diabetes and also the associated conditions known as 'diabesity' and 'metabolic syndrome'. In conjunction with genetic susceptibility, particularly in certain ethnic groups, type 2 diabetes is brought on by environmental and behavioural factors such as a sedentary lifestyle, overly rich nutrition and obesity. The prevention of diabetes and control of its micro- and macrovascular complications will require an integrated, international approach if we are to see significant reduction in the huge premature morbidity and mortality it causes.

“Man may be the captain of his fate, but he is also the victim of his blood sugar” Wilfrid Oakley [Trans. Med. Soc. Lond. 78, 16 (1962)]

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Figure 1: Numbers of people with diabetes (in millions) for 2000 and 2010 (top and middle values, respectively), and the percentage increase.
Figure 2: Metabolic syndrome as defined by the World Health Organization24.
Figure 3
Figure 4: Reduction in risk of progressing from IGT to diabetes as a result of changes in intensive lifestyle.

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Zimmet, P., Alberti, K. & Shaw, J. Global and societal implications of the diabetes epidemic. Nature 414, 782–787 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1038/414782a

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