Diabetes is not unique to people. About 1 in every 500 dogs and about 1 in every 200 cats has diabetes, and as is the case with people, these numbers are increasing. Margarethe Hoenig looks at the symptoms and treatment of diabetes in cats and dogs.
In the United States, the latest data show that two out of three adults are overweight, and nearly one in three is obese. Alarmingly, similar trends are emerging around the world. In countries as diverse as the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Kuwait, and Mexico at least half the population is overweight and one in five is obese.
Although the exact magnitude of the problem in Africa is not well understood, diabetes is a serious threat to public health throughout the continent. In 2003, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) predicted that by 2010, diabetes prevalence in Africa would increase by around 95%. Ignoring diabetes could lead to the breakdown of the fragile health systems in Africa, which are already overwhelmed by communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS.
Overweight is an important risk factor for noncommunicable diseases in general and diabetes in particular. There is presently a global epidemic of overweight. A recent large study found a 5.6% growth in obesity in the United States in 2001, and a massive 74% increase since 1991. Twenty one percent of American adults are obese. The prevalence of diabetes, which correlates with obesity has risen 61% in the US since 1990. Diabetes rose 8% over 2000-01 to nearly 8% of the population. The situation is not much better in many developing countries.
Obesity is an epidemic accelerating out of control. It is the driving force behind an equally dramatic explosion of Type 2 diabetes, both in adults and now alarmingly among children. Clearly, strategies aimed at improving the prevention and management of obesity must be developed. Not confined to affluent nations, the obesity epidemic imposes a double burden on countries where people are still struggling to overcome generations of chronic undernutrition. Economic progress in developing countries heralds changes in
Were there warnings that diabetes would become the epidemic of the 21st century? In the early 1970s, Peter Bennett and co-workers reported on the extraordinarily high prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in Pima Native Americans. In 1975, we reported the high rates of diabetes in the Micronesian Nauruans in the Pacific. Similar findings followed in other Pacific and Asian island
populations. They all indicated the potential for a future global epidemic.
Even among policy makers at an international and national level, awareness about the public health and clinical importance of diabetes remains low. Diabetes is widely perceived as a condition of low importance to the poorer populations in the world. In the low- and middle-income countries, the impact of diabetes is largely unrecognized. Yet the world is facing a dramatic rise in diabetes prevalence, most of which will occur in the low- and middle-income countries.
The aim of the World Health Organization (WHO) is the achievement of the highest possible level of health for all the world's people. From its global headquarters in Geneva and its Regional Offices, it assists national governments achieve this aim by setting international norms and standards, and providing leadership and technical support.
WHO has substantial influence and prestige and has several major accomplishments to its credit, most notably the global eradication of smallpox in 1979, and major reductions in the burden of polio, leprosy, river blindness and tuberculosis.
The World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) is dedicated to supporting prevention and management of diabetes in the developing world. Accordingly it funds sustainable projects in education, capacity building, and distribution and procurement of essential medical supplies. WDF creates partnerships and acts as a catalyst to help others