Why is Diabetes on the Rise?

If there is one thing the medical community is sure of, it's that diabetes is on the rise.

As more and more people – both old and young – are diagnosed, doctors and research teams have sought to find out why so many are affected by this disease. But a new study, published in the journal Diabetologia, indicates one possible cause that could help us breathe a little easier.

Studying the Scots

This study analyzed data from the Scottish diabetes register, looking at over 180,290 cases of type 2 diabetes from 2004 to 2013. The incidence rate, they found, was quite stable over this period – with 4.88 cases per 1000 men and 3.33 cases per 1000 women. According to the study authors, the number of new cases might be stabilizing because of “earlier changes in diagnostic criteria and more of a focus by the NHS on diagnosing diabetes.”

A Social Divide

While studying diabetes patients, this team also consulted data on population size and death data from Scotland's national records. By reviewing the age, sex, and socioeconomic status of their subjects, the study uncovered a widening gap in type 2 diabetes cases. "Our study highlights major inequalities in type 2 diabetes cases by age, gender and socioeconomic status," said Dr. Stephanie Reed, a researcher at the Center for Population Health Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. "Tackling these inequalities will be crucial for improving treatment and management of the condition."

Living Longer

Another interesting finding was the decreasing mortality rates among type 2 diabetes patients. “Death rates declined by 11.5 per cent for men and 15.7 per cent for women during the study period,” indicating that the rise in diabetes patients over the years might simply be due to increased survival rates. However, Read stressed in her report that type 2 diabetes should still be taken seriously, saying:

“Despite improved mortality rates, type 2 diabetes confers an excess risk of death compared with the non-diabetic population.
“There is still scope to address the increased mortality associated with diabetes.”

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