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Diabetes on Upswing Worldwide
Date:6/26/2011

SATURDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- The last quarter century has seen a such an explosion in the incidence of diabetes that nearly 350 million people worldwide now struggle with the disease, a new British-American study reveals.

Over the past three decades the number of adults with diabetes has more than doubled, jumping from 153 million in 1980 to 347 million in 2008.

What's more, the incidence of diabetes in the United States is rising twice as fast as that of Western Europe, the investigation revealed.

The finding stems from an analysis of blood samples taken from 2.7 million people aged 25 and up living in a wide range of countries.

Professor Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London teamed up with Dr. Goodarz Danaei of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and their colleagues to present their observations June 25 in The Lancet.

"Diabetes is one of the biggest causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide," Ezzati said in a news release from The Lancet. "Our study has shown that diabetes is becoming more common almost everywhere in the world."

"This is in contrast to blood pressure and cholesterol, which have both fallen in many regions," Ezzati added."(And) diabetes is much harder to prevent and treat than these other conditions."

The authors warned that diabetes can trigger the onset of heart disease and stroke, while damaging the kidney, nerves and eyes. Complications are predicted to rise with the growing incidence of the disease.

To get a sense of where diabetes is heading, the team reviewed measurements of fasting blood glucose (sugar) levels, based on blood samples taken after an individual hadn't eaten for 12 to 14 hours.

The highest incidence of diabetes and fasting plasma glucose (FPG) levels were found in the United States, Greenland, Malta, New Zealand and Spain. The countries with the lowest levels were Netherlands, Austria and France.

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