The burden of type 2 diabetes: Are we doing enough?

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Increasing levels of obesity, arising from energy-rich diets and sedentary lifestyles, are driving a global pandemic of type 2 diabetes. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes worldwide is set to increase from its present level of 150 million, to 225 million by the end of the decade and to as many as 300 million by 2025. Shocking as they are, these figures represent only clinically diagnosed diabetes, and many more cases of diabetes remain undiagnosed and untreated. In addition, up to one-quarter of western populations have impaired glucose tolerance or the dysmetabolic syndrome, which are considered to represent pre-diabetic states. Type 2 diabetes is appearing increasingly in children and adolescents, and the frequency of diagnosis of paediatric type 2 diabetes is outstripping that of type 1 diabetes in some areas. The long-term complications associated with type 2 diabetes carries a crushing burden of morbidity and mortality, and most type 2 diabetic patients die prematurely from a cardiovascular event. Diabetic patients are more than twice as costly to manage as non-diabetic patients, due mainly to the high costs associated with management of diabetic complications. Indeed, diabetes care already accounts for about 2-7% of the total national health care budgets of western European countries. Controlling the type 2 diabetes epidemic will require changes to the structure of healthcare delivery. Well-resourced interventions will be required, with effective co-ordination between all levels of government, health care agencies, multidisciplinary health care teams, professional organisations, and patient advocacy groups. Above all, intervention is needed today.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6S9-6S18
Number of pages10
JournalDiabetes & Metabolism
Issue number4 II
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetic complications
  • Health economics
  • Quality of life
  • Type 2 diabetes

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