GENEVA: The number of adults estimated to be living with diabetes has nearly quadrupled over 35 years, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday, urging huge efforts to change eating habits and exercise more.
The UN’s health agency said the number of adults with the disease had surged to 422 million by 2014, compared to 108 million in 1980.
The explosion in prevalence was because of worldwide changes “in the way people eat, move and live,” WHO said, in its first-ever global report on the disease.
An estimated 8.5 percent of the world’s adults now have diabetes, compared to 4.7 percent in 1980.
The disease directly caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012 — the latest available global figures — but elevated blood glucose levels linked to diabetes were responsible for an additional 2.2 million deaths that year, the report said.
Diabetes “is one of the leading killers in the world today,” said Etienne Krug, who is heading WHO’s response to the disease.
The region worst affected, with 131 million estimated cases in 2014, was the WHO’s Western Pacific region, which includes China and Japan. The Southeast Asia region — which includes heavily populated India and Indonesia — was the next most affected, with 96 million cases. Europe and the Americas were third and fourth on the list, with 64 million and 62 million cases respectively.