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Spike in diabetes -- especially among the young -- charted by country
(CNN) -- The lack of physical exercise and unhealthy eating habits are major contributors to a worldwide jump in diabetes rates among the younger, more economically productive age groups, according to doctors.
New figures released Monday at an international diabetes conference in Mexico City said over 151 million adults around the world are diabetic, up 11 percent in just five years.
"We can anticipate a further doubling in the first 25 years of the new millennium," said Sir George Alberti, the incoming president of the International Diabetes Federation, in a statement.
Most disturbing, said those attending the federation's 17th triennial congress, is that more than half of diabetes sufferers are between the ages of 20 and 59. Previously, diabetes affected primarily the elderly.
What's behind the change? Urbanization -- especially in developing countries, said the authors of "Diabetes Atlas 2000", published by the federation and billed as the world's first diabetes atlas.
The atlas includes up-to-date data on diabetes in 130 countries in Europe, Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. It's written in three languages -- English, French and Spanish -- and is sponsored by a grant from drug maker Glaxo Wellcome.
The atlas' authors tracked the epidemiology of worldwide diabetes, analyzing such things as demographic statistics and socioeconomic indicators.
"Studies in the Western Pacific and (among) the Amerindians show a close association of type 2 diabetes with improved resources and Westernization of lifestyles," said the foundation's Alberti, also the president of the Royal College of Physicians in London.
Diabetes is the fourth or fifth leading cause of death in most developed countries. Type 2 diabetes, the most common kind, affects about 15 million people in the United States. If untreated, it can lead to blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and amputations.
The diabetes federation vows to serve as a global advocate for people with diabetes and their health care providers.
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