A report from the World Health Organisation suggest that the number of people suffering from diabetes globally has increased four-fold over the last 35 years.
The extent of the diabetes epidemic is already well established and documented, but the World Health Organisation now believes that the disease is literally a serious threat to population health.
Rapid increases in the condition are largely attributed to obesity, but the increasing propensity of sugar in food and drink could also be a possible contributing factor.
Of course, the two things are also strongly linked.
While diabetes has previously been associated with the developed world, the latest report from the World Health Organisation instead suggests that the condition is rising fastest in the populations of developing economies.
Margaret Chan, director-general at the WHO, indicated that those who contract diabetes in poorer nations find themselves in a particularly vulnerable position.
“No longer a disease of predominantly rich nations, the prevalence of diabetes is steadily increasing everywhere, most markedly in the world’s middle-income countries. People with diabetes who depend on life-saving insulin pay the ultimate price when access to affordable insulin is lacking.”
The propensity of Type 2 diabetes is increasing rapidly across multiple regions in the world, with increasingly sedentary lifestyles also contributing to this phenomenon.
Whereas about 108 million people suffered from the disease in 1989, that number has nearly quadrupled to 422 million by 2014, according to the findings of the World Health Organisation.
8.5% of the global population now suffers from diabetes, and this figure is expected to skyrocket further in the coming years.
Responding to its own findings, the World Health Organisation suggested that healthy eating in childhood is the best way to prevent diabetes from developing.
The news is sure to provide advocates of the sugar tax in the UK with more ammunition, after the policy was announced in the budget of Chancellor George Osborne.
Figures regarding obesity and diabetes in the UK make extremely sobering reading, with experts believing that half of boys in the country and 70% of girls will be either overweight or obese within a single generation.
Incredibly, treating diabetes already accounts for 10% of the entire budget of the NHS; approximately £10 billion.
Yet based on existing demographic trends, this figure will rise further still in the coming years, according to experts, ensuring that a staggering 17% of the overall NHS budget will be spent on diabetes by 2035.
Chan warned the cost of dealing with the disease would have an economic impact as well as causing massive health problems.
“Diabetes and its complications impact harshly on the finances of individuals and their families, and the economies of nations.”
In response to this, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development goals from the United Nations includes ambitious new diabetes targets proposed by several nations.