Story highlights

The World Health Organization publishes its first Global Diabetes Report in the medical journal Lancet

Diabetes killed 1.5 million in 2012 alone, with high blood-glucose causing another 2.2 million deaths, the WHO says

Type 2 diabetes, the most common kind, can be delayed or prevented by "intensive interventions" in diet and exercise, the report notes

CNN  — 

It’s a potentially fatal disease whose risks can in many cases be prevented through lifestyle measures. So why has diabetes seen a massive increase in sufferers?

The number of people living with the potentially fatal disease has quadrupled since 1980, to more than 400 million, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Worldwide, diabetes killed 1.5 million in 2012 alone, with high blood-glucose causing another 2.2 million deaths, the organization says.

In its first Global Diabetes Report, the WHO says a “whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach” is required to tackle the disease, which costs an estimated $827 billion annually in patient care and medicine.

Findings of the WHO report were published in the medical journal Lancet, and highlight inequalities between countries, as diagnoses and medicine are more accessible in high-income nations.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease caused by the body’s failure to produce enough insulin to regulate blood glucose – or blood sugar.