Four out of every five people with diabetes now live in developing countries, with most affected men and women being of working age.
This is according to the latest data published by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in the fourth edition of the IDF Diabetes Atlas.
"It is dismal news that some 285 million people live with diabetes today. Even worse, low and middle-income countries are bearing the brunt of the disease," said IDF President Jean Claude Mbanya.
According to World Health Organization estimates, India and China will lose national income to the tune of nearly US$900 billion between 2005 and 2015 to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. IDF predicts that diabetes will cost the world economy US$376 billion in 2010 and a hundred billion more within a generation.
"Families are losing breadwinners, parents are losing children, children are losing mothers. Much of this tragic loss of life is preventable," said Prof Mbanya, who features in a BBC documentary showcasing the burden of diabetes in the developing world.
The half-hour documentary - titled Bittersweet - is being aired this week as part of BBC World's Kill or Cure series. Set in Nairobi, Kenya and Pune, India, the film shows how the South Asian subcontinent is facing a type 2 diabetes pandemic, while in Africa many countries struggle to put insulin within reach of people with type 1 diabetes.
"It's an outrage that while treatment and technology exists for people with diabetes to manage their disease, the reality is that for millions of people in low and middle-income countries, modern treatment and technology is still a dream," added Prof Mbanya.
"IDF calls for increased funding for essential medicines and for governments to make diabetes a priority in national healthcare plans."
Bittersweet will air on BBC World at 11:30GMT on 13 January (Asia Pacific only), 15:30GMT on 14 January and 02.30GMT on 15 January. The documentary can also be viewed online at http://www.rockhopper.tv/programmes/311/ .
The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is an umbrella organization of 212 member associations in 163 countries and territories, representing over 285 million people with diabetes, their families, and their healthcare providers. The mission of IDF is to promote diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide. Its main activities include education for people with diabetes and healthcare professionals, public awareness campaigns and the promotion and exchange of information. IDF is a non-governmental organization in official relations with WHO and associated to the United Nations' Department of Public Information. For more information, please visit www.idf.org  and follow us at twitter.com/IntDiabetesFed.
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