Diabetes burdens Middle East health systems

Dubai (News Agencies) The Egyptian Gazette 15.11.2014 – The prevalence of diabetes is soaring in populations across Middle East and north Africa and the burden on the region’s healthcare system is set to increase unless more action is taken to change lifestyle, data show.

One in ten adults has diabetes; half of them undiagnosed, and cases of Type 2 diabetes are rapidly increasing in the region. Without lifestyle changes, a quarter of the Middle East’s population will be affected by 2035, the Financial Times reported according to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).

A deadly combination of overeating and junk food, along with low levels of exercise, is undermining attempts to control the spread of the disease, which is linked to obesity. With the incidence of obesity increasing, especially among children, the growth of diabetes is one of the region’s most pressing healthcare issues.

“We have the highest prevalence in the world” said Abel El-Sayed, regional chair of the IDF, presenting the data to coincide with World Diabetes Day yesterday.

“That’s because of our eating habits and a lack of exercise.”

The federation forecasts that diabetes in adults will almost double in the region over the next two decades, rising from 37m, or 10 per cent of the population, to 68m, about a quarter of the population forecast in 2035.

The disease led to 363000 deaths in 2014, half of which were under the age of 60. Across the region, the populous state of Egypt has the highest number of people with diabetes at 7.6m. But the impact of the epidemic is proportional higher in the wealthy Gulf States.

In Saudi Arabia, the disease, affects 24 per cent of the population with 23 per cent in Kuwait, 22per cent in Bahrain, 20 per cent in Qatar and 19 per cent in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In the UAE the number of diabetes, currently pegged at 804000, is expected to triple by 2035.

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