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Understanding Diabetes 2021

One in 10 people live with diabetes

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Professor Andrew Boulton

President, International Diabetes Federation

New data from the International Diabetes Federation highlights the alarming growth of diabetes prevalence across the globe.

The findings from the IDF Diabetes Atlas 10th edition highlight the alarming growth in the prevalence of diabetes around the world. More than 537 million adults (one in 10) are now living with diabetes worldwide — a rise of 16% (74 million) in the past two years. Without sufficient action to address the situation, we predict 643 million people will have diabetes by 2030 (11.3% of the population).

More than 537 million adults (one in 10) are now living with diabetes worldwide — a rise of 16% (74 million) in the past two years.

Spiralling out of control

I wish I could report that the past two decades have witnessed decisive action to tackle diabetes. I wish I could share the news that all people living with diabetes worldwide can access and afford the care they need. I wish I could declare that 100 years after its discovery, therapeutic insulin is now within reach of all those who need it to survive. Unfortunately, I cannot. Instead, I must repeat the message that diabetes is a pandemic of unprecedented magnitude spiralling out of control.

Diabetes is one of the top 10 global causes of death. So why is not enough being done to prevent diabetes and its complications and provide the best available care to people with the condition?

Much can be done to reduce the impact of diabetes. Evidence suggests that type 2 diabetes can often be prevented, in some cases reversed. Meanwhile early diagnosis and access to appropriate care for all types of diabetes can avoid or delay complications for people living with the condition.

Rays of hope

There are some rays of hope. The centenary of the discovery of insulin has attracted greater attention to the diabetes cause. In April, the World Health Organization launched its Global Diabetes Compact, marking an increased focus on diabetes. Soon after, a landmark Resolution was agreed by the World Health Assembly, highlighting the importance of prevention, diagnosis and control of diabetes. These are important steps towards addressing the continued and rapid rise of diabetes prevalence, particularly in countries that do not have a national diabetes plan. 

Support our call

Words must now be turned into action. If not now, when? The theme chosen by the International Diabetes Federation for diabetes awareness month and World Diabetes Day is access to diabetes care.

The IDF is calling on national governments to provide the best possible care for people living with diabetes and to develop policies to improve diabetes screening and type 2 diabetes prevention, especially among young people. 

Find out more and support our call at

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