The World Health Organization released a Global report on diabetes, 2016 underlining the urgency to curb the disease, which caused 1.5 million deaths globally in 2012. The main goals of the WHO's World Health Day Beat Diabetes campaign are to increase awareness about the rise in the disease, the staggering economic burden of the disease on low-income countries and effective actions required to tackle diabetes.
Here are the 10 most important facts about diabetes underlined by the WHO:
Fact 1: About 422 million people worldwide have diabetes
The incidence of diabetes has steadily increased over the last three decades, due to an increase in the prevalence of obese and overweight people. The number of diabetic patients is growing rapidly in low and middle-income countries.
Fact 2: Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the world
In 2012, 1.5 million people worldwide died due to diabetes. An additional 2.2 million deaths occurred due to higher than optimum levels of glucose in blood, through an increased risk of cardiovascular and other diseases. Even when blood glucose levels are not high enough to warrant a diagnosis of diabetes, it can cause harm to the body.
Fact 3: There are two major forms of diabetes
Type 1 diabetes is characterised by the lack of insulin production while Type 2 diabetes results from the body's ineffective use of Insulin. While Type 2 diabetes is potentially preventable, the causes and risk factors for Type 1 diabetes remain unknown, and prevention strategies have not yet been successful.
Fact 4: A third type of diabetes is gestational diabetes
Gestational diabetes is characterised by hyperglycaemia or raised blood sugar, with values above normal but below those diagnostic of diabetes during pregnancy. Women with gestational diabetes are at increased risk of complications during pregnancy and delivery. Such mothers and their children are also at increased risk for Type 2 diabetes.
Fact 5: Type 2 diabetes is more common than Type 1 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes accounts for the majority of diabetes cases worldwide. Higher waist circumference and higher body mass index (BMI) are associated with an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes. Reports of Type 2 diabetes in children have also increased worldwide.
Fact 6: Diabetics can live a long and healthy life with proper management of the disease
Diabetics can live a healthy life through various cost-effective measures. These measures include blood sugar control through a combination of physical activity and diet, medications (if necessary), and control of blood pressure to reduce other complications.
Fact 7: Early diagnosis and intervention is the key
The longer a person lives with undiagnosed and untreated diabetes, the worse their health outcomes would be. Basic set-ups like blood glucose measurement should be available at all primary healthcare facilities.
Fact 8: Majority of the diabetic deaths occur in low and middle-income countries
In general, health practitioners in poor countries do not have access to basic treatment facilities, which leads to poor management of diabetes. Access to basic diabetes medicines like insulin is also limited in such countries.
Fact 9: Diabetes could lead to amputation, blindness and kidney failure
Diabetes of all types can lead to complications in all parts of the body, further leading to premature death. Possible complications include heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, leg amputation (because of infected, non-healing foot ulcers), vision loss and nerve damage.
Fact 10: Type 2 diabetes can be prevented
Thirty minutes of moderate intensity exercise on most days and a healthy diet can drastically reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.