The Number Of People With This Disease Has Quadrupled Since 1980

Photographed by Geordy Pearson.
In the age of potential Zika scares looming over the horizon, it's easy to forget that global health crises come in many forms. And according to a new study, one disease in particular has skyrocketed among adults worldwide in the last few decades: diabetes.

The research, published online this week in The Lancet, used data collected between 1980 and 2014 in 751 previous studies, which also appears today in the World Health Organization's (WHO) first report on diabetes. That data included information about diabetes diagnoses, the use of insulin, and trends in glucose levels for 4,372,000 adult participants from 146 countries.

Using this information, the researchers were able to see the change in the prevalence of diabetes over the past few decades — and their results were staggering. Since 1980, the number of diabetes cases globally in adults has quadrupled from 108 million to 422 million in 2014.

Although the study didn't specifically differentiate between Types 1 and 2 diabetes, approximately 85 to 95% of adult diabetes cases are Type 2. So, the authors suggest in a press release that the rise here is most likely due to a rise in Type 2 diabetes.

And according to the CDC, the U.S. is on a similar trajectory: There were 5.5 million adults diagnosed with diabetes in the States in 1980 and 22 million in 2014. But according to the study, low- and middle-income countries have seen the most rapid increase in cases.

Alongside the release of this data, the WHO dedicated today's World Health Day to curbing the "enormous scale of the diabetes problem" but also our potential to reverse it. And just as importantly, the WHO emphasizes that countries do as much as possible to help those who already have the disease manage their condition.

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