LONDON — The number of young people developing Type 2 diabetes has soared over the past 30 years, driven mainly by rising obesity rates, a new study shows.
Data from over 200 countries and regions reveals the rise is particularly affecting women under 30. Generally, Type 2 diabetes develops in middle-aged and older people and it carries an increased risk of serious health complications, such as heart disease, vision loss, and premature death.
However, scientists in China discovered the incidence rate for Type 2 diabetes among adolescents and young adults is increasing across the globe — going from 117 per 100,000 people in 1990 to 183 in 2019. One of the measurements in the study was disability adjusted life years (DALYs), and these increased globally from 106 per 100,000 in 1990 to 150 per 100,000 in 2019.
Mortality rate due to the disease across the globe increased from 0.74 percent per 100,000 to 0.77 per 100,000 in 2019.
The team at Harbin Medical University, China found women under 30 generally had high mortality and DALY rates than men. However, the gender split in mortality rate reversed once people reached the age of 30, with the one exception being people in undeveloped countries.
Worldwide, weight is the biggest diabetes factor
Writing in The BMJ, researchers argue that weight control is essential to reduce the burden of early onset Type 2 diabetes. They add that countries should establish specific policies to deal with the disease effectively.
In 2019, the highest rates of Type 2 diabetes were found among those living in low-middle and middle sociodemographic index countries, as did the highest DALY rate. Meanwhile, countries with a low sociodemographic index had the fewest people diagnosed with the disease, but the highest mortality rate related to Type 2 diabetes at the same time.
The study is the first to describe the global burden of the disease and is the first to look at variations between the sexes in countries with different levels of socioeconomic development. Risk factors of the disease also remained unclear until this research.
The team studied data from 204 countries and territories between 1990 and 2019, focusing on new diabetes cases, deaths, and DALYs. The three focal points provide a measure of quantity and quality of life. They also examined the proportional DALY attributable to different risk factors and revealed air pollution, smoking, low-fruit diets all contributed to Type 2 diabetes onset.
“Our study showed a clear upward trend of the burden of early onset type 2 diabetes from 1990 to 2019,” study authors write in a media release. “These findings provide a basis for understanding the epidemic nature of early onset type 2 diabetes and call for urgent actions to deal with the issue from a global perspective.”
South West News Service writer Pol Allingham contributed to this report.