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366 million worldwide have diabetes

Associated Press / September 14, 2011

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LONDON - An estimated 366 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes, and the global epidemic is getting worse, health officials said yesterday.

The International Diabetes Federation described the number of cases as “staggering,’’ with one person dying from diabetes every seven seconds.

The federation called for concrete measures to stop the epidemic, urging officials focusing on chronic diseases at a United Nations meeting next week to commit to specific targets to prevent cases and to invest in more research.

“The clock is ticking for the world’s leaders,’’ said Jean Claude Mbanya, the group’s president, in a statement. “We expect action from their meeting next week at the United Nations that will halt diabetes’ relentlessly upwards trajectory.’’

The figures were announced in Lisbon, during the European meeting of the group, an umbrella organization that represents associations from more than 160 countries.

It estimated that diabetes causes 4.6 million deaths every year and that health systems spend $465 billion annually fighting the disease. That includes both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes mainly affects children and young adults, who are unable to make insulin. Type 2 diabetes is more common and is often tied to obesity. It develops when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to break down glucose, inflating blood sugar levels.

The disease can be managed with diet, exercise, and medication but chronically high blood sugar levels cause nerve damage, which can result in kidney disease, blindness, and amputation.

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