Diabetes and Impaired Glucose Tolerance

Global Burden: Prevalence and Projections, 2010 and 2030

At a glance
  2010 2030
Total world population (billions) 7.0 8.4
Adult population (20-79 years, billions) 4.3 5.6
Diabetes and IGT (20-79 years)    
Global prevalence (%)  6.6 7.8
Comparative prevalence (%)  6.4 7.7
Number of people with diabetes (millions) 285 438
Global prevalence (%) 7.9 8.4
Comparative prevalence (%) 7.8 8.4
Number of people with IGT (millions) 344 472

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is now one of the most common non-communicable diseases globally. It is the fourth or fifth leading cause of death in most high-income countries and there is substantial evidence that it is epidemic in many economically developing and newly industrialized nations. Complications from diabetes, such as coronary artery and peripheral vascular disease, stroke, diabetic neuropathy, amputations, renal failure and blindness are resulting in increasing disability, reduced life expectancy and enormous health costs for virtually every society. Diabetes is undoubtedly one of the most challenging health problems in the 21st century.

The number of studies describing the epidemiology of diabetes over the last 20 years has been extraordinary. It is now recognized that it is the low- and middle income countries (LMCs) that face the greatest burden of diabetes. However, many governments and public health planners still remain largely unaware of the current magnitude, or, more importantly, the future potential for increases in diabetes and its serious complications in their own countries.

It has been a consistent finding of population-based diabetes studies that a substantial proportion of all people found to have diabetes had not been previously diagnosed. The uncovering of new cases when mass blood testing is undertaken is primarily because of the lack of symptoms associated with the early years of type 2 diabetes, meaning that those with diabetes may be unaware of their condition and therefore not seek medical attention for it.

In addition to diabetes, the condition of impaired glucose tolerance also constitutes a major public health problem, both because of its association with diabetes incidence and its own association with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

In this edition of the IDF Diabetes Atlas, the prevalence of diabetes mellitus and IGT has been estimated for each country for the years 2010 and 2030. Data are provided for 216 countries and territories, which have been allocated into one of the seven IDF regions: Africa (AFR), Europe (EUR), Middle East and North Africa (MENA), North America and Caribbean (NAC), South and Central America (SACA), South-East Asia (SEA), and the Western Pacific (WP).

The data presented for adults are for types 1 and 2 diabetes combined, and IGT. Only adults aged from 20 to 79 years are considered because the majority of all people who have diabetes and IGT are adults. Estimates for type 1 diabetes in children and adolescents are presented in the section on Diabetes in the Young.

Two sets of prevalence estimates have been provided in this report: the national, regional or global prevalence (the crude prevalence) and the comparative prevalence. The national, regional or global prevalence indicates the percentage of a particular population that has diabetes. It is appropriate for assessing the burden of diabetes for each country or region. The comparative prevalence is used for making comparisons between countries or regions. It has been calculated by assuming that every country or region has the same age profile (the age profile of the world population has been used). This reduces the effect of the differences of age between countries or regions, and makes this figure approriate for making comparisons.

The data presented here should be interpreted cautiously as general indicators of diabetes frequency, and the estimates will need to be revised as new and better epidemiological information becomes available. Comparison of country, regional, and even global prevalence from one report to the next should be performed with extreme caution. Large changes in the prevalence or numbers of people with diabetes from one edition of the IDF Diabetes Atlas to another are usually due to the use of a more recent study rather than a change in the profile of diabetes within that country. Data sources for this edition include 34 new studies. Thus, the inclusion of recent, and more reliable research brings us closer to the actual rates of diabetes, but these limitations need to be always considered. The key purpose of reports such as these is to stimulate action in the form of preventive and management programmes, as well as further research.

The background paper, Diabetes and Impaired Glucose Tolerance, and country by country estimates on which this summary is based are available in the Downloads section.