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Rate of New Diabetes Cases May Be Falling Globally


Downturn in incidence may be partially due to successful public health campaigns to prevent the disease.

Dianna J. Magliano, PhD, MPH

Dianna J. Magliano, PhD, MPH

New evidence points to patterns of decreasing diabetes incidence, according to data presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes annual meeting in Barcelona, Spain in September 2019.

Dianna J. Magliano, PhD, MPH, a senior research fellow with the National Health and Medical Research Council and head of the diabetes and population health unit at the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues, analyzed data from 275 studies conducted between 1980 and 2018 with at least 2 years of follow-up that reported the incidence of diabetes or type 2 diabetes in adults.

The researchers then allocated the data into decades and counted the proportion of populations showing increasing, stable incidence or decreasing incidence in each time period.

“We observed that the majority of populations (66%) reporting diabetes incidence-new cases- in 1990 to 2005 were showing increasing incidence, but in the period of 2006 onward, over 65% of studies were showing decreasing or stable incidence,” Magliano says.

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“These results are pertinent to everyone,” she says. “They are an indication that our diabetes prevention activities and health awareness messages could be having beneficial effects. We did this study because we observed isolated reports that diabetes incidence was stabilizing or falling in some countries and we wanted to know whether similar changes were occurring elsewhere in the world and whether this was a sign that the diabetes epidemic could be changing-for the better.

“The findings suggest that we may be seeing the benefits of diabetes prevention and healthy lifestyle awareness which has taken place globally,” Magliano says. “There have also been many changes in food formulations and labelling in several countries and there have been sugar-sweetened beverage and junk food taxes implemented in several places. These interventions alone probably won’t drive diabetes incidence down much, but together they probably contribute to what we are seeing. Health awareness has certainly changed. We can see that by how and what we eat now compared to the past.”

However, Magliano stresses that although headway is being made, prevention activities must move continue to move forward.

“We want the community to continue to work toward the goals of a healthy lifestyle and don’t want people or communities to become complacent,” she says. “We need to continue what we are doing to ensure these positive patterns of change continue into the future.”

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