World Diabetes Day data show extent of the disease

New estimates released by the International Diabetes Federation to mark World Diabetes Day 2012, Nov. 14, show that 371 million people have diabetes, with 187 million of those yet to be diagnosed.

The high number of undiagnosed cases means millions of people are at risk of costly and debilitating diabetes complications such as nerve and kidney disease, according to the IDF.

In the United States, 24.1 million people have diabetes and about 6.7 million of them have yet to be diagnosed, according to the report. There will be 183,633 deaths from complications of the disease this year in the U.S.

Previous global estimates from the 2011 IDF Diabetes Atlas put the number of people with diabetes at 366 million and the number of deaths at 4 million. The 2012 figures show the upward trend will continue, with 4.8 million people dying from diabetes-related complications by the end of the year. Half the deaths worldwide will be in people younger than 60.

“As millions of undiagnosed people develop diabetes complications, we can expect to see the mortality rate climb,” Jean Claude Mbanya, president of the IDF, said in a news release. “On World Diabetes Day, we want to raise awareness that this disease can be controlled and in some cases prevented.”

The IDF said the release of the figures increases the urgency of its commitment to have diabetes and other non-communicable diseases finally included in the next set of global development goals, which will take the place of the outgoing Millennium Development goals in 2015.

“Millions of people are dying from diabetes in their most productive years,” said Ann Keeling, CEO of IDF. “The stability of societies is threatened and huge economic and political burdens are imposed on countries and communities. However, this disease remains marginalized on the global health and development agenda and vastly under-resourced.”

A poster summary of the IDF’s atlas update is available at

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