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By analyzing the prevalence of diabetes between 1990 and 2021, researchers have estimated that the number of diabetics worldwide will more than double by 2050. This mainly concerns type 2 diabetes, a largely preventable disease. So how do we explain these predictions?

A series of diabetes studies published in the scientific journal The Lancet announces an alarming increase in the number of diabetes cases worldwide. Researchers analyzed data from the Global Burden of Diseases (GBD) study to estimate the prevalence of diabetes by location, age and sex between 1990 and 2021 in 204 countries. They thus obtained the proportion of diabetes cases in 2021: 529 million people. They also felt that there would be more than 1.3 billion diabetics by 2050. “The rapid growth rate of diabetes is not only alarming, it also poses a challenge to all healthcare systems around the world, especially considering that the disease also increases the risk of ischemic heart disease andstroke“said Dr Liane Ong, author and senior researcher at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in the United States.

On the same subject

Type 2 diabetes: the 15-39 increasingly affected, what causes?

Know that diabetes can be of two types:

  • THE type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease characterized by the absence of insulin resulting in spikes in hyperglycemia.
  • THE Type 2 diabetes, much more common, is usually due to lifestyle habits. Gradually, the body becomes resistant to insulin and no longer regulates blood sugar levels. Often nicknamed the “silent killer”, diabetes can already be present several years before the first symptoms. Certain signs such as fatigue and dehydration can nevertheless alert you.

Although there are different treatments, diabetes remains a serious disease with high death rates and many comorbidities. “Diabetes is a defining disease of the 21st century“, underline The Lancet in its editorial. “How healthcare systems treat diabetes over the next two decades will determine population health and life expectancy for the next 80 years.

What are the ways to prevent diabetes?

THE type 2 diabetes accounts for 96% of diabetes cases. Yet it is largely preventable and, in some cases, potentially reversible if identified and treated at an early stage. However, the prevalence of diabetes continues to increase, mainly due to a sharp rise inobesity. The main avoidable risk factors are:

  • a high BMI;
  • poor eating habits;
  • high alcohol consumption;
  • the tobacco ;
  • inactivity.

But there are many other factors that mean that we are not all equal when it comes to the disease. “While the general public might believe that type 2 diabetes is simply associated with obesity, lack of exercise and poor diet, the prevention and control of diabetes is quite complex due to a number of factors. These include in particular the a person’s geneticsas well as logistical, social and financial obstacles within a country’s structural system, especially in low- and middle-income countries‘, says Dr. Ong.


  • Global, regional, and national burden of diabetes from 1990 to 2021, with projections of prevalence to 2050: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2021, The LancetJune 22, 2023
  • Diabetes: a defining disease of the 21st century, The Lancet, June 24, 2023

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