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HeS-NewsInternational Diabetes Federation urges U.N. action, saying disease claims 1 life every 7 seconds.

The worldwide diabetes epidemic continues to worsen, with an estimated 366 million people struggling with the disease, 4.6 million deaths due to it each year, and annual health-care spending pegged at $465 billion, the International Diabetes Federation announced Tuesday.

The federation released the numbers at a meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Lisbon, Portugal, one week before the United Nations Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases. The goal of the summit is to mount a global drive to combat diabetes as well as cancer, heart and chronic respiratory diseases. It marks just the second time that the United Nations has held a summit on a health-related issue. The first one, in 2001, set goals to treat the HIV/AIDS crisis.

The new diabetes numbers, which are based on international data, illustrates the “relentlessly upwards trajectory” of the disease — both type 1 and type 2 — around the world, the federation said.

The statistics are “proof indeed that diabetes is a massive challenge the world can no longer afford to ignore. In 2011, one person is dying from diabetes every seven seconds,” IDF President Jean Claude Mbanya said in a federation news release.

“The clock is ticking for the world’s leaders — we expect action from their high-level meeting next week at the United Nations that will halt diabetes’ relentlessly upwards trajectory.”

The federation statement calls for “strengthening health systems [that] should include developing and evaluating approaches for building local health care capacity, as well as integrating diabetes care and services with primary health care services, management of chronic infectious diseases and maternal and child health.”

Health-e-Solutions comment: The numbers are staggering, but they would be a lot higher if they included people with what they classify as pre-diabetes and metabolic syndrome. If the UN summit can do for diabetes what it did for HIV, then there just may be some hope that better management of diabetes will emerge over the next ten years. However, the approach will be all about drugs (with their accompanying side effects) and little about healthy lifestyle changes like the diabetic alkaline lifestyle.