Facts and figures


There are two types of diabetes mellitus:

Type 1 diabetes (also called insulin-dependent diabetes or juvenile diabetes) is a disease of the pancreas, which leads to insufficient production of insulin. The symptoms include frequent urination, increased thirst, increased hunger and weight loss. Type 1 diabetes is partly inherited but it also needs an environmental trigger. There are indications that diet may be a factor in this. Type 1 diabetes is managed primarily with insulin injections and, at present, cannot be cured.

In type 2 diabetes (also called non-insulin dependent diabetes or maturity onset diabetes), the target tissues for insulin (muscle, liver and fat-tissue) become insensitive or resistant to the action of insulin. This means that more insulin is needed to obtain the same response from the target tissues. Type 2 diabetes is primarily influenced by lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity, alcohol consumption and smoking.

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The scale of the issue

In 2015, it was estimated that 415 million adults around the world were living with diabetes around the world. This number is predicted to increase to 642 million by 20401.

In Europe, about 60 million people have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, or about 10.3% of men and 9.6% of women aged 25 years and over1. It is estimated that this figure will reach 71 million by 20402.

In Europe, diabetes caused 627,000 deaths in 2015: about one quarter (26.3%) of those deaths were in people under the age of 60. Estimates indicate that diabetes was responsible for 9% of total health expenditure in Europe in 2015, equivalent to USD 156 billion1.

Age is an important risk factor for type 2 diabetes. In Europe, 30.8% of the general population were aged between 50 and 79 in 2015, and this percentage is expected to increase to 35.6% by 20401.

To a large degree, the high prevalence of type 2 diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance are a consequence of the ageing of Europe’s population. However, diabetes is now increasingly affecting adolescents and children and the highest increase is in the 30-40 year-old age group3.

The twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes already represent the biggest public health challenge of the 21st century. It is estimated that at least half of all diabetes cases would be eliminated if weight gain in adults could be prevented4.


  1. International Diabetes Federation, ‘Diabetes Atlas, 7th Edition’. Available at: http://www.diabetesatlas.org
  2. The World Health Organization, ‘Diabetes Data and Statistics’. Available at: http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/noncommunicable-diseases/diabetes/data-and-statistics
  3. Diabetes Prevention Forum, ‘A European Evidence-Based Guideline for the Prevention of Type 2 Diabetes’. Available at: http://diabetespreventionforum.org/index.php/projects/6-image-project
  4. The International Diabetes Federation, ‘Diabetes & Obesity: Time to Act’. Available at: https://www.idf.org/sites/default/files/attachments/issue_23_en.pdf

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