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Monday, 6 November, 2000, 06:13 GMT
Diabetes affects one in 20 world-wide
supermarket shelves
Western diet accounts for a rise in diabetes
One in 20 of the world's adult population now suffers from diabetes, according to latest figures.

The first global diabetes atlas reveals that over 151 million adults now live with the condition.

Professor Sir George Alberti, president of the International Diabetes Federation says that number is set to double in the next 25 years.

He said the westernisation of people's lifestyles is leading to a rapid spread of type 2 diabetes, particularly in developing countries.

Type 2 or adult onset diabetes is associated with obesity, poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle.

The world atlas reveals that the disease is rising between younger, economically productive people and is particularly prevalent in urban areas.

Prof Alberti, who is also president of the Royal College of Physicians said: "Diabetes causes an enormous burden to people and economies world-wide.

"The information in Diabetes Atlas 2000 should convince governments to put diabetes at the top of the healthcare agenda."

One million undiagnosed

In the UK around 1.4 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, but Diabetes UK believes a further one million have the disease without knowing it.

The new atlas provides information about diabetes in 130 countries and illustrates how it has spread in association with improved resources and western diets.

Diabetes causes an enormous burden to people and economies world-wide.

Prof Sir George Alberti

Type 2, the most common form of diabetes, is caused by lack of insulin in the body and resistance to insulin that is naturally produced.

Common complications include circulatory disease, including strokes and amputations as well as kidney problems and blindness.

"The government needs to ensure adequate health care resources for all to help avoid the costly long term effects, such as blindness and heart disease," a Diabetes UK spokesperson said.

Further research

The charity Action Research is investigating whether children in isolated rural areas are more at risk of diabetes.

Dr Patricia McKinney, of the charity, said: 'Although diabetes is less common than asthma, the burden on children and their families is very high.

"Therefore, it's important to identify causes so it can be prevented.

"The number of children with insulin-dependent diabetes is increasing in developed countries throughout the world and the reason for this is unknown.

"It's important to find out what the causes of childhood diabetes are, because the longer a person depends on insulin, the greater the likelihood of developing long term complications."

The main risk factors for type 2 diabetes are being overweight, aged over 40, having a family history of diabetes and being Asian or Afro-Caribbean.

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See also:

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