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Diabetes cases forecast to soar

Global group’s report projects 55% rise by ’35

– Diabetes kills one person every six seconds and afflicts 382 million people worldwide, according to the International Diabetes Federation, which has been enlisting the help of people as varied as celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and Bob Marley’s nephew to raise awareness about the problem.

The number of diabetes cases has climbed 4.4 percent over the past two years, according to new figures the Brussels federation released Thursday.

The number of people affected by the disease is expected to climb 55 percent to 592 million by 2035 as factors including poor diet, a more sedentary lifestyle, increases in obesity and life expectancy fuel an epidemic, it said. There were only 285 million sufferers worldwide in 2009.

“We haven’t seen any kind of stabilizing, any kind of reversal,” said Leonor Guariguata, an epidemiologist and project coordinator for IDF’s Diabetes Atlas, published every two years. “Diabetes continues to be a very big problem and is increasing even beyond previous projections.”

The disease, caused by a lack of insulin the body needs to convert blood sugar into energy, is becoming a financial burden on governments and led to $548 billion in global health care spending this year, the federation said.

To counter the surge, it urges policy makers across many sectors to devise concerted action.

Jamie Oliver and Charles Mattocks, Bob Marley’s nephew, are among celebrities that have been helping IDF advocate the need for healthy living.

The call is not going unheard. Health officials from almost 200 countries in May adopted nine targets, such as reducing average daily salt consumption by 30 percent by 2025, in a bid to fight cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and called for curbs on marketing unhealthy food to children under a plan to cut the world’s leading causes of death.

More help is needed. IDF estimates that 5.1 million people die annually because of the disease, with an average 10 million diabetes cases emerging every year. The majority of cases affect 40- to 59-year-olds, according to IDF.

Every year, diabetes also leads to more than 1 million amputations, 500,000 kidney failures and 1.5 million cases of blindness, according to a slide provided by Novo Nordisk.

The spread of the disease has increased faster than the world’s population, which exceeds 7 billion and has increased 2.2 percent in two years, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.