Diabetes: the EU's heavy burden

Doctor examining obesity patient [Photo: Shutterstock]
Doctor examining obesity patient [Photo: Shutterstock]

An estimated 32 million people in the European Union (8.1%) were living with diabetes in 2013. Although policymakers are now paying special attention to the issue and to obesity-related conditions more generally, health experts say more can be done to tackle what the EU considers as a chronic disease.

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Every two minutes, an EU citizen dies of diabetes-related diseases, according to the European Diabetes Leadership Forum (EDLF), a stakeholder organisation initiated by pharma company Novo Nordisk, which aims to move diabetes up the public health agenda.

50% of all people with diabetes die of cardiovascular disease, making diabetes the fourth most common cause of death in Europe, EDLF figures show. Meanwhile, 10-20% die of kidney failure, 10% develop severe visual impairment and 50% suffer from diabetic neuropathy, it says.

However, governments are not whole-heartedly engaging in effective measures to curb obesity, according to the European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE), a think tank. This is despite calls from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) among others, to halt and revert obesity trends, which are driving diabetes.

In a policy document from 2013, the ECIPE says special attention should be paid to diabetes, which is considered a chronic disease linked to heart problems and strokes. Around 9.3% of the EU's total health budget is spent on diabetes.

Diabetes is caused by a lack of insulin, due to insufficient pancreatic production or high blood sugar levels. It can also develop from insulin resistance, a case where the pancreas produces insulin that is rejected by the body.

EU member states have been experimenting with measures to prevent obesity and excessive weight gain, which cause 'type 2' diabetes.

Such measures include those suggested by the OECD: food education and physical activity at school level, or food taxes targeting food products with high content of sugar or saturated fat.

“On current trends, and if no changes are made to the healthcare coverage, governments in Europe will soon be facing rapidly increasing costs related to the treatment of illnesses and health problems associated with obesity,” the ECIPE said.



an european's picture

The E.U. should give the opportunity to implement "isle" cells in the renal on affected patients to give them an adequate live back.....instead to inject 4x insulin the day and the hypos .. !
This disease cure can be handled with "isle" cells apparently only reserved for V.I.P. !

The E.U. and the U.S. should experiment with mother-cells to find a way to a cure or at least a half-cure for these patients . There are more and more children affected of these disease which has nothing to do with obesity!

Seems there is a cure but Novo Nordisk or Aventis seems to like selling it's own medicina because of money !
This is NOT the way in long term ! Affected people need a cure at least with "isle cells !!

BenitoDe's picture

Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn said: "Diabetes is set to rise sharply, with devastating consequences for our health and Europe's healthcare systems. To break this trend, we need to invest in research to better understand, prevent and treat this debilitating disease. These research projects will lead the way".
Each project investigates how genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors of different segments of the world population jointly influence the emergence and gravity of the disease. One of the requirements for EU support was that the four projects work in collaboration – in a cluster - and share their data and results. This will allow the researchers to go faster and further in the discovery of new ways to curb the epidemic growth of diabetes and obesity. It also reflects the Commission's continued efforts to increase the cost-efficiency of EU research spending, generating more benefit from every euro spent.
The launch of the new project cluster is an important element of the international conference "Diabesity – A World-Wide Challenge" which takes place in Brussels today and tomorrow. Organised by the European Commission, this 2-day event brings together some 200 leading scientists, funding agencies, policy-makers and other key players from across the globe. It will present the four cluster projects, determine the state of play of diabetes and obesity research in specific populations world-wide, and explore opportunities for greater international cooperation and new research partnerships.

Benito De Campo