The incidence of diabetes among adults all over the world continues to rise, and eating junk food isn't all to blame.

In a new study, researchers collected data from more than 700 studies that involved 4.4 million adults in 200 countries, and found that the global diabetes incidence has quadrupled in less than four decades. This means diabetes affects one in every 11 adults all over the world.

This figure has sounded the global alarm, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to step up efforts to improve care and treatment for diabetes patients.

What Caused The Surge?

In a report published on April 6, the WHO said the rising cases of obesity and the growing aging populations are among factors that drove the increase of global diabetes.

It's a domino effect. Previous studies indicate that about 2.7 billion people in the world are going to become obese by 2025, setting off an increase in the incidence of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

This high prevalence can supposedly be attributed to the spread of the Western diet in the industry – a high-fat, low-fiber diet is marked by the high intake of salt and sugar, which altogether contributes to weight gain and ups the risk for a variety health conditions.

But researchers from the Imperial College London believe that blaming the exportation of the Western diet for the rising cases in diabetes is an old and overstated idea.

Dr. Majid Ezzati, who supervised the study, said in order for obesity rates to go up, people do not necessarily need to eat a lot of junk food and fast food. He said consuming more of the usual food eventually increases a person's body mass index.

"Calories are calories and carbs are carbs," said Ezzati.

Another theory as to why the number of people with diabetes is increasing is that people who were malnourished as children are suddenly eating more and thus gaining weight.

Ezzati said there is a growing body of evidence that suggests poor conditions during childhood can influence how our body uses and produces insulin.

What Can Be Done To Curb The Crisis?

Health systems can be effective in helping people who are at high risk of Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. These people can be motivated to change their lifestyle and diet, sometimes using low-cost medication, Ezzati said.

In fact, the United States has programs such as the Diabetes Prevention Program that could help people with pre-diabetes, he added.

The full findings of the study are featured in the journal The Lancet.

Photo : Juhan Sonin | Flickr

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