WHO: Diabetes rates skyrocketing worldwide
Diabetes rates nearly doubled in the past three decades, largely due to increases in obesity and sugary diets, according to a report released Wednesday by the World Health Organization.
The percentage of adults living with diabetes worldwide grew from 4.7% in 1980 to 8.5% in 2014. Overall, there was a nearly four-fold increase in worldwide cases: An estimated 422 million adults were living with diabetes in 2014, up from 108 million in 1980.
The WHO describes diabetes as a serious, chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces.
The disease can develop slowly over time. In 2012, 86 million Americans age 20 and older had prediabetes, a condition in which blood sugar is higher than normal but doesn’t yet qualify as diabetes.
Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, killing about 69,000 Americans a year. The disease contributes to an additional 234,000 deaths each year, according to the American Diabetes Association.
Worldwide, diabetes killed 1.5 million people in 2012, according to the WHO report. High blood sugar caused an additional 2.2 million deaths by increasing the risks of heart disease and other chronic conditions. About 43% of these deaths occur before the age of 70.