Governments Must Act on Biggest Epidemic in Human History

    - New IDF Consensus on Prevention of Diabetes is Launched

    BARCELONA, April 26 /CNW/ - The diabetes pandemic is threatening to
overwhelm global healthcare services. Today, the International Diabetes
Federation (IDF) launched a new consensus statement on diabetes prevention, to
be published in the May issue of Diabetic Medicine, hot on the heels of a
December 2006 United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for concerted
international action.
    "The UN resolution is a huge win in the fight against the biggest disease
epidemic in human history. Diabetes is responsible for close to 4 million
deaths every year. With 246 million people with diabetes now and 380 million
people with diabetes by 2025, diabetes is set to bankrupt national
economies(1)," said Professor Paul Zimmet, Director, International Diabetes
Institute and co-author of the consensus. "Type 2 diabetes can be prevented,
but it will take enormous political will on the part of governments to make
this a reality. They can achieve this by creating the environment that allows
individuals to make lifestyle changes. That is why we are calling on all
countries to endorse the UN resolution and to target entire populations
through the development and implementation of National Diabetes Prevention
    The new IDF consensus recommends that all individuals at high risk of
developing type 2 diabetes be identified through opportunistic screening by
doctors, nurses, pharmacists and through self-screening.
    Professor Sir George Alberti, Past President of IDF and co-author of the
new IDF consensus said: "There is overwhelming evidence from studies in the
USA, Finland, China, India and Japan that lifestyle changes (achieving a
healthy body weight and moderate physical activity) can help prevent the
development of type 2 diabetes in those at high risk(2-6). The new IDF
consensus advocates that this should be the initial intervention for all
people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, as well as the focus of
population health approaches."
    In addition to the need for individual lifestyle change, IDF recognizes
that there are powerful environmental forces that influence the behavioural,
eating and exercise patterns of the community.
    "Inadvertently, our own government authorities may have contributed to
this epidemic by allowing developers to create urban social problems," said
Professor Avi Friedman, Professor of Architecture at McGill University,
Montreal. "Urban sprawls are part and parcel of new developments without
proper attention to building design, sidewalks, bike paths, public transport
corridors, playing fields and friendly exercise areas that are essential and
need to be accessible to people who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle."
    National Diabetes Prevention Plans will therefore require coordinated
policy and legislative changes across all sectors including health, education,
sports and agriculture, as well as the formation of strategic relationships.
They must be culturally sensitive and targeted to mobilize all sectors of the
    "Diabetes is already a massive social cost, and it is up to politicians
to decide whether they will spend more and more money on acute care and drugs,
or invest in prevention by supporting lifestyle change among the entire
population," said Professor Alberti.
    "A Kyoto-like agreement on diabetes prevention and management is needed
among governments worldwide if we are to prevent this problem from becoming
catastrophic," concluded Professor Zimmet.

    For further information, please access the webcast of the press
conference via

    Notes to Editors

    The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) is the global advocate for
more than 240 million people with diabetes worldwide. It represents 200
diabetes associations in more than 150 countries. The mission of IDF is to
promote diabetes care, prevention and a cure worldwide. IDF is a
non-governmental organisation in official relations with the World Health

    About Diabetes

    Each year 7 million people develop diabetes and the most dramatic
increases in type 2 diabetes have occurred in populations where there have
been rapid and major changes in lifestyle, demonstrating the important role
played by lifestyle factors and the potential for reversing the global
epidemic. A person with type 2 diabetes is 2 - 4 times more likely to get
cardiovascular disease (CVD), and 80% of people with diabetes will die from
it. Premature mortality caused by diabetes results in an estimated 12 to 14
years of life lost. A person with diabetes incurs medical costs that are two
to five times higher than those of a person without diabetes, and the World
Health Organization (WHO) estimates that up to 15% of annual health budgets
are spent on diabetes-related illnesses (
    There is conclusive evidence that good control of blood glucose levels
and management of high blood pressure and aspects of the lipid profile (blood
fats) can slow the progression to or of type 2 diabetes, and substantially
reduce the risk of developing complications (such as cardiovascular, eye and
kidney disease) in people with diabetes.


    The IDF consensus on diabetes prevention was supported by an educational
grant from AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals.


    (1)  Diabetes Atlas, third edition, International Diabetes Federation,

    (2)  Pan X, Li g, Hu Y, Wang J, Yang W, An Z. Effects of diet and
         exercise in preventing NIDDM in people with impaired glucose
         tolerance. The Da Qing IGT and Diabetes Study. Diabetes Care 1997;
         20: 537-544

    (3)  Tuomilehto J. Lindstrom J, Eriksson J, Valle T, Hamalainen H.
         Prevention of type 2 diabetes mellitus by changes in lifestyle among
         subjects with impaired glucose tolerance. N Engl J Med 2001;
         344: 1343-1350

    (4)  Ramachandran A, Snehalatha C, Mary S, Mukesh B, Bhaskar A, Vijay V.
         The Indian Diabetes Prevention Programme shows that lifestyle
         modification and metformin prevent type 2 diabetes in Asian Indian
         subjects with impaired glucose tolerance (IDPP-1). Diabetologia
         2006; 49 (2): 289-297

    (5)  Knowler W, Barrett-Connor E, Fowler SE, Hamman RF, Lachin JM.
         Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle
         intervention or metformin. N Engl J Med 2002; 346: 393-403

    (6)  Kosaka K, Noda M, Kuzuya T. Diab Res Clin Pract 2005; 67: 152-162

For further information:

For further information: Anne Pierson, Press Events Manager, IDF, Tel:
+32-2-543-1623, Mobile: +32-475-343-788, E-mail:; Kait Ayres,
Mandarin Healthcare Communications, Tel: +44-1727-854-239, Mobile:
+44-7850-374860, E-mail:

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