The 54 countries and territories in the Europe Region comprise diverse populations with different levels of affluence. Gross domestic product (GDP) varies from over USD 81,000 per capita for Luxembourg to less than USD 2,000 for several eastern European countries. 1
The ageing of the population in the region will place increasing numbers of people at risk of diabetes, and will place a greater cost burden on health systems.
The number of people with diabetes in this vast region in 2011 is estimated to be 52.6 million, or 8.1% of the adult population. The country with the highest prevalence (10.0%) and the greatest number of people with diabetes (12.6 million) is the Russian Federation, whereas Moldova has an estimated prevalence of diabetes of just 2.8%. After the Russian Federation, the countries with the highest prevalence (%) are eastern European countries, including Poland, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, and Kazakhstan. Conversely, the countries with the highest number of people with diabetes are mostly in Western Europe, including Germany, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, and Spain.
Age is an important risk factor for type 2 diabetes. In the Europe Region in 2011, a third of the population of the region was over 50 years of age, and this is expected to increase to over 40% by 2030. To a large degree the high prevalence of type 2 diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) is a consequence of the ageing of the region’s population.
The Europe Region has the highest number of type 1 diabetes in children of any region. There are about 115,700 children with type 1 diabetes in this region in 2011. The region also has one of the highest incidence rates of type 1 diabetes in children, with 17,800 new cases in 2011. The countries making the largest contribution to the overall numbers in type 1 diabetes in the young are the United Kingdom, the Russian Federation and Germany.
One in 10 deaths in adults in the Europe Region can be attributed to diabetes, representing close to 600,000 people in 2011. The vast majority (90%) of these deaths were in those over the age of 50, which partly reflects the age distribution of the population but may also be related to improved survival rates due to more responsive health systems. There are slightly more deaths due to diabetes in women compared to men (316,000 vs 281,000 respectively).
Estimates indicate that at least USD 131 billion was spent on healthcare due to diabetes in the Europe Region in 2011, accounting for almost one-third of global healthcare expenditures due to diabetes. Just as there is wide variation in the prevalence of diabetes in the region, the range of mean diabetes-related expenditures per person with diabetes between countries is large as well, ranging from USD 9,300 in Luxembourg to just USD 61 in Tajikistan.
A total of 52 sources from 31 out of the 54 countries in the region were used to generate estimates for diabetes in adults, and 16 for estimates of IGT. Surprisingly there is a paucity of population-based data from many of the more affluent countries of the region, despite being some of the most resource-rich countries in the world. The region has by far the most complete and reliable data for type 1 diabetes in children with a large proportion of countries having registries that were either nationwide or covered several different parts of a country.
1: Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook. 2008. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/