IDF Atlas: 1 in 10 adults worldwide now has diabetes


Diabetes-related mortality: Some shifts since 2019

One third of the current 6.7 million diabetes-related deaths in 2021 were in people younger than 60 years, said Elbert S. Huang, MD, professor of medicine and public health sciences at the University of Chicago.

Overall, diabetes accounted for 11.8% of total global deaths in people younger than 60 years, but that varied widely, from 24.5% in the Middle East/North Africa to just 6.9% in Southeast Asia.

The regions with the highest number of diabetes-related deaths in people younger than 60 years in 2021 were the Western Pacific and the Middle East/North Africa, a major change from just 2 years ago, when Southeast Asia and Africa saw the greatest numbers of diabetes-related deaths in working-age adults.

“These findings mirror recent reports on inadequate uptake of diabetes prevention programs as well as stagnant quality of care trends for the past decade and reemphasize the need to address noncommunicable diseases across the globe,” Dr. Huang said.

Diabetes and COVID-19: Other factors partly explain the increased risk

Gillian Booth, MD, summarized the current literature on COVID-19 and diabetes including a meta-analysis her group conducted of 300 studies from around the world, with 58% from high-income countries.

The risk for increased COVID-19 severity in people with diabetes could be at least partly explained by factors such as age, sex, and comorbidities, said Dr. Booth, professor in the department of medicine and the Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation at the University of Toronto.

For example, the unadjusted pooled odds of hospitalization with COVID-19 in patients with diabetes, compared with those without diabetes, was 3.69, but dropped to 1.73 after adjustment for age, sex, and having one or more comorbidities. For COVID-19–related death, those odds ratios were 2.32 unadjusted versus 1.59 adjusted. In both cases, the values were still significant after adjustment, she emphasized.

Overall, hyperglycemia and hemoglobin A1c at admission emerged as significant independent predictors of severe outcomes.

“Further research is needed to understand the interplay between COVID-19 and diabetes and how best to address the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 among people living with diabetes,” she stressed.

Adult-onset type 1 diabetes: Growing recognition of the burden

Ascertainment of data for both adult-onset type 1 and type 2 diabetes in youth was subject to significant limitations.

For adult-onset type 1 diabetes, Jessica Harding, PhD, pointed to the fact that the epidemiology of adult-onset type 1 diabetes hasn’t been well characterized because of the historical focus on children, the difficulty of distinguishing it from type 2 diabetes in adults, and that many registries simply don’t include incident data across the lifespan for type 1 diabetes.

Nonetheless, she said, “there is growing recognition of the burden of adult-onset type 1,” noting that the American Diabetes Association and European Association for the Study of Diabetes just published a consensus statement addressing the topic.

A systematic review of 46 studies representing 32 countries or regions revealed that countries with the highest incidence of type 1 diabetes onset per population of 100,000 ages 20 or above were Eritrea, at 46.2, followed by Sweden and Ireland, both at 30.6, and Finland, at 0. The lowest rates were in Asian countries.

While the Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, and Norway) are among the top for incidence of both childhood-onset (0-14 years) and adult-onset type 1 diabetes, Eritrea isn’t even among the top 10 for childhood onset.

The unusual situation in Eritrea is the subject of current study but the reasons aren’t yet clear, noted Dr. Magliano, of Emory University, Atlanta, during the question-and-answer period.

And only seven studies, 15%, used biomarkers to determine type 1 diabetes status, suggesting “there is a pressing need to improve the quality and quantity of information on adult-onset type 1 diabetes, particularly in those low- and middle-income countries,” Dr. Harding said.

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