Diabetes will be ‘a defining disease of this century,’ global cases set to exceed 1 billion by 2050
The prevalence of diabetes is expected to more than double by 2050, according to a new Lancet study. Approximately 1 in 10 people worldwide at that time will have diabetes, marking a 60% increase in the prevalence of the disease, said the study findings.
“Diabetes will be a defining disease of this century,” wrote editors of the Lancet in an editorial. “How the health community deals with diabetes in the next two decades will shape population health and life expectancy for the next 80 years.”
The increasing rates will be steered by T2D, which comprised 96% of cases of the disease globally in 2021.
The Lancet study also suggested that T2D cases will be primarily associated with obesity. The authors attribute roughly one-half of the rise in diabetes over the next 3 decades to demographic shifts such as aging populations and to rising obesity rates. They also note that low- to middle-income countries are shifting to industrialized lifestyles that feature more processed foods and reduced physical activity. At the same time, people in these countries lack adequate access to treatments and are restricted in their health spending, the authors noted.
Referring to new drugs like semaglutide and tirzepatide, the authors said “the excitement and utility surrounding GLP-1 agonists and newer drug combinations that help to control blood sugar as well as reduce body weight is understandable. But…the solution to unhealthy and unfair societies is not more pills[,] but to re-evaluate and re-imagine our lives to provide opportunities to tackle racism and injustice, and to prevent the major social drivers of disease.”