463 million: that’s the number of people aged between 20 and 79 living with diabetes worldwide, or 1 adult in 11 in 2019.
But what is the current state of affairs with diabetes? What is the profile of those affected and which regions of the world do they live in?
Overview of diabetes figures*.
* The figures in this article are from studies covering the year 2019 and published in 2020.
Global diabetes figures
Reports from the WHO (World Health Organization) and the IDF (International Diabetes Federation) both show a marked increase in the total number of people living with diabetes worldwide over the last decade.
While there were 285 million people living with diabetes in 2010, this figure reached 463 million (or 8.3%) in 2019. One in 11 adults on Earth lives with diabetes, a figure that has doubled since the end of the last century. Type 2 diabetes is the most prevalent: an estimated 90% of all people with diabetes.
It should be noted that in 2019 one out of every two adults (50.1%), were unaware that they were living with the condition.
Distribution of diabetes in adults by age group and gender
All age groups are affected by diabetes, with a visible peak observed in the 60-69 age group. One in five people living with diabetes is over 65 years old.
It is estimated that in women aged 20 to 79 the prevalence is slightly lower than observed in men. In 2019, there were approximately 17.2 million more men living with diabetes than women.
In addition to these figures, there are people whose fasting blood glucose levels are above the normal threshold, but below the threshold for diabetes. This is known as prediabetes. In 2019, an estimated 374 million people aged 20 to 79 were diagnosed with prediabetes. Almost half of those with pre-diabetes are below the age of 50, and nearly one-third of them are in the 20-39 age group. This condition affects both men and women.
Diabetes figures in children and adolescents
In children and adolescents, type 1 diabetes is increasing in many countries, especially among those under 15 years of age. The number of people living with type 1 diabetes below the age of 20 is estimated at 1,110,100 worldwide. The overall annual increase is estimated at around 3%, with significant geographic variations.
Type 2 diabetes is also increasingly affecting children and young people, whereas it was previously mainly seen in the elderly and middle-aged.
A significant disparity in figures between continents
It is estimated that 3 out of 4 people living with diabetes are in low- or middle-income countries. Statistics also show that the number of people living with diabetes is higher in urban areas than in rural ones.
In which regions is diabetes most prevalent?
The Southeast Asia and Western Pacific regions account for about half of the world's cases of diabetes and it is these regions that have seen the highest increase in the number of people living with diabetes in recent decades.
In which regions is diabetes least prevalent?
The African population appears to be the least affected by diabetes (prevalence 4.7%) compared to other continents, perhaps due to less urbanization, limited food supplies in some areas and lower rates of excess weight.
A highly variable distribution by country
Data from 2019 shows that the three countries with the highest number of adults living with diabetes are China, India and the United States. These three nations also have the highest rate of people with diabetes over 65 years of age.
All of these figures underline the extraordinary scale of diabetes throughout the world. However, research has identified that the current trend can be reversed, in particular through the implementation of prevention policies to combat the risk factors, but also by improving access to treatment.
- IDF. Global diabetes data report 2010 - 2045. 9th edition 2019. https://www.diabetesatlas.org/data/en/world/
- IDF. Global fact sheet from the IDF Diabetes Atlas. 9th edition 2019. https://www.diabetesatlas.org/upload/resources/material/20191218_144459_2019_global_factsheet.pdf
- IDF. Diabetes Atlas. 9th edition 2019. https://www.diabetesatlas.org/upload/resources/material/20200302_133351_IDFATLAS9e-final-web.pdf
- IDF. Europe from the Global diabetes data report 2010 - 2045. 9th edition 2019. https://www.diabetesatlas.org/upload/resources/material/20191218_144548_eur_factsheet_en.pdf
- IDF. Key figures from the IDF Diabetes Atlas. 9th edition 2019. https://www.diabetesatlas.org/en/key-figures/
- WHO. Global report on diabetes. 2016. https://www.who.int/diabetes/global-report/en/
- IDF. Denmark from the Global diabetes data report 2010 - 2045. 9th edition 2019. https://www.diabetesatlas.org/data/en/country/56/dk.html
- IDF. Finland from the Global diabetes data report 2010 - 2045. 9th edition 2019. https://www.diabetesatlas.org/data/en/country/70/fi.html
- IDF. Germany from the Global diabetes data report 2010 - 2045. 9th edition 2019. https://www.diabetesatlas.org/data/en/country/77/de.html