Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rise in diabetes and non-communicable diseases linked to climate change

Tim Smedley in the Guardian (UK): "Epidemic" is an over-used word. But when the the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) uses it, it's worth listening. Rapidly increasing instances of a disease is afterall the very definition of the word. And that is exactly what's happening, says Ann Keeling, IDF's chief executive and chair of the NCD Alliance – comprising the IDF, the World Heart Federation, International Union For Cancer Control, and voluntary scientific organisation The Union (TB and lung disease).

"Type 2 diabetes is driven by both over nutrition and malnutrition", says Keeling. "These are global risks and global threats. We're seeing, particularly in middle income countries, type 2 diabetes related to maternal malnutrition. The dysfunctional food system is very much connected to what's happening in global agriculture changes and ... it is leading to both huge numbers of people who are malnourished and huge numbers of people that are obese."

The numbers are overwhelming: 366 million people have diabetes worldwide, expected to rise to half a billion – one in 10 adults – by 2030. The reason for the rise, along with a growing population, is climate change.

Given that diabetes already causes 4.6m deaths and costs more than £300bn ($465bn) globally every year in direct health care costs, the situation is not sustainable. The vast majority – 80% – of people with diabetes live in low-to-middle-income countries, which are due to be the worst effected by extreme weather and crop failures caused by climate change. At the same time urbanisation is leading to increasingly sedentary lifestyles, with obesity and diabetes as a result....

Photo by ParentingPatch, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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