Epidemiology of Type 2 Diabetes

Jonathan E. Shaw and Richard Sicree



Global and National Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes




This chapter reviews a number of aspects of the epidemiology of type 2 diabetes, and the evidence relating to the major issues. There is strong evidence for a rising epidemic of diabetes in many countries of the world, although the prevalence and incidence of diabetes varies markedly among regions, countries within regions, and by ethnicity. Some of the increase in prevalence is attributed to increased survival with the condition, but it is likely that there is a genuine increase in incidence, associated with lifestyle changes, such as reduced exercise and particularly increased obesity. This also seems to be causing the appearance of type 2 diabetes in new groups, such as children and adolescents, although the older population remains the most affected.

The material linking obesity with type 2 diabetes is overwhelming, as prevalence and incidence studies have both shown strong associations among many ethnicities, and intervention studies have shown benefits of life style modification, through exercise and diet. Specific dietary factors: lower dietary fibre, higher total and lower polyunsaturated fat have all been linked to higher diabetes incidence. These lifestyle factors are closely linked with economic situation in the community, and there is a contrasting pattern between developed and developing countries, such that diabetes is more common amongst the least affluent in developed countries, but increased affluence currently seems to be associated with diabetes in developing countries.

Key Words: Diabetes epidemiology; obesity; ethnicity; adolescent; life style; complications.

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