Rates of diabetes vary widely across developing countries worldwide, according to a new analysis led by Dr. Longjian Liu of Drexel University.
Worldwide, four in five people with diabetes now live in developing countries. Liu’s study found that access to healthcare support for diabetes varied widely in developing countries, and that one in ten diagnosed cases remain untreated. The study is available online and will appear in a future issue of the journal Diabetic Medicine.
Many past studies have measured rates of diabetes in developing countries in isolation using different methods, leaving researchers unable to make direct comparisons between countries. Liu’s team analyzed data from the World Health Organization’s World Health Survey, one of the first and largest global surveys using a standard method to measure the rates of chronic conditions in multiple countries worldwide. Liu’s team included a total of more than 215,000 participants from 49 countries in their analysis.
The prevalence of diabetes varied widely, from a low of 0.27 percent in Mali, to 15.54 percent in Mauritius. Researchers noted that age is a common factor in diabetes; the low rate observed in Mali may reflect that country’s low life expectancy due to infectious diseases.
The study results showed that so-called “adverse body weight” -- being underweight, overweight or obese -- was associated with increased risk of diabetes. People with diabetes who were underweight were the most likely to go untreated.
Liu and colleagues noted that it is important to identify and address the lack of treatment because diabetes is an independent risk factor for additional health problems and complications, including heart and kidney diseases.