The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is an umbrella organization of over 200 national diabetes associations in over 160 countries. Besides promoting diabetes care and prevention, the IDF tracks statistics on diabetes and diabetics on a worldwide basis.
The Federation publishes the Diabetes Atlas, a collection of statistics and comments on diabetes which is issued from time-to-time. The Atlas is based on data supplied by its members. As these are national associations, the facts and figures published by the IDF are considered quite reliable.
According to the 6th edition of the IDF Diabetes Atlas, which was published in 2013, the total population of the world is 7.2 billion. This is expected to have risen to 8.7 billion by 2035, ie in 22 years time.
This total population includes 4.6 billion adults and these has been projected to reach 5.9 billion by 2035. The IDF defines an adult as a person aged 20-79 years, the most likely age range for the development of type 2 diabetes.
According to the Diabetes Atlas, 382 million people around the world or 8.3% of all 4.6 million adults (20-79 years) are estimated to be suffering from diabetes. Almost half of all adults with diabetes are aged 40-59 years, the age range during which people are at their most productive phase in life.
The number of people with type 2 diabetes is increasing in every country. If current trends continue, the IDF expects that there will be more than 592 million diabetics by 2035, a rise of 55%, when one adult in ten will be diabetic.
Type 2 diabetes may be undiagnosed for several reasons. There are few symptoms in the early years of the disease. In addition, the complications vary so widely that, even when symptoms do exist, diabetes may not be recognised as the cause.
The IDF figure for 382 million diabetics in 2013 includes 175 million who are undiagnosed. I must admit I was astounded when I first read that 46% of suga norm diabetics are undiagnosed. How can you count something if you don’t know it exists?
Estimating the number of undiagnosed diabetics, I discovered, is relatively easy. All the IDF had to do was to arrange tests for a sample of people living in a particular area. The tests, which are carried out by the IDF’s national associates, identify both known and unknown cases of diabetes, and it is a simple mathematical exercise to extrapolate to the population as a whole with a high degree of accuracy.
Many (but not all) persons who know they have the disease will be making some attempts to beat their diabetes. The problem with undiagnosed diabetes is that these diabetics will not be managing their blood glucose levels and may be developing complications, such as kidney disease, heart failure, retinopathy and neuropathy, unbeknownst to themselves.