Global diabetes rates are rising as obesity spreads

Diabetes-CopyDrug regulator approves mid-stage trial of vaccine to reverse type 1

THE global diabetes rate has risen by nearly half over the past two decades, according to a new study, as obesity and the health problems it spawns have taken hold across the developing world.

The prevalence of diabetes has been rising in rich countries for several decades, largely driven by increases in the rate of obesity. More recently, poorer countries have begun to follow the trend, with major increases in countries like China, Mexico and India.

The study, published Monday in the British medical journal The Lancet, reported a 45 percent rise in the prevalence of diabetes worldwide from 1990 to 2013. Nearly all the rise was in Type 2, which is usually related to obesity and is the most common form of the disease.

Meanwhile, diabetes researchers are hoping that an almost century-old vaccine for preventing tuberculosis may also reverse type 1 diabetes.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a mid-stage trial to test the vaccine, called bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG), in 150 adults with advanced cases of the disease.

The approval was announced Sunday at the 75th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association by Dr. Denise Faustman, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Immuno-biology Laboratory in Boston and principal investigator of the study.

A major shift is underway in the developing world, in which deaths from communicable diseases like malaria and tuberculosis have declined sharply, and chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes are on the rise. The pattern is linked to economic improvement and more people living longer, but it has left governments in developing countries scrambling to deal with new and often more expensive ways to treat illnesses.

The study, led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a research group, was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is the largest analysis of global disability data to date, drawing on more than 35,000 data sources in 188 countries.

The study measured the burden of disability by calculating the proportion of a population living with any given disorder in a year. It found that the numbers of people living with disability have gone up — largely a result of population growth and aging — but that the rate of disability declined slightly, dropping to 110 per 1,000 people in 2013, compared with 114 per 1,000 in 1990.

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