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Incidence of Diabetes in Germany Projected to Increase Dramatically


Today in Germany the estimated percentage of adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is between seven and eight percent. New epidemiological data and the present population forecast of the Federal Statistical Office suggest that in 2030 there will be 3.9 million people with type 2 diabetes in the age group between 55 and 74 years. Compared to today, this means an increase of more than 1.5 million individuals. This rise is far more than was assumed in previous prognoses. However, if only half of the individuals with prediabetes would participate in preventive measures on a permanent basis, more than 370,000 cases of diabetes could be prevented by 2030.

According to a current prognosis of the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) on the development of the incidence of diabetes in Germany, the number of adults with diabetes will increase by 580,000 individuals to 5.6 million. This estimate, however, only includes the parameter of demographic change. A current study of the German Diabetes Center (DDZ), a partner institute of the German Center for Diabetes Research, – now published in the European Journal of Epidemiology – also considers the incidence rate and the mortality data for individuals with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes in the elderly population. In a preliminary phase of the study, the data of large population-based studies from different regions of Germany (DIAB-CORE and Competence Network Diabetes) were merged, and the number of individuals with type 2 diabetes was determined. Together with the official population forecast of the Federal Statistical Office and the incidence rate for diabetes and including the mortality rate, the number of individuals with type 2 diabetes can be estimated for the coming years. If the method of the DDZ is applied to the year 2030, the result is a much higher number of adults with diabetes than the number forecast by the IDF. Compared to today, alone in the age group between 55 and 74 years , there will be an estimated increase of more than 1.5 million to a total of 3.9 million individuals. The most significant increase with almost one million individuals will be in men. In women there will be an increase of more than 0.5 million individuals.

The prognosis of the DDZ also includes preventive measures for risk factors of type 2 diabetes. If 50 percent of the individuals with prediabetes (borderline elevated glucose levels) would successfully participate in measures to improve their diets and to lose weight (like in the Finnish diabetes prevention program) on a permanent basis, this sharp rise in incidence could possibly be slowed. From the projected increases, in men 210,000 diabetes cases and in women 160,000 cases could be prevented. And if three out of every four individuals with prediabetes participated, these numbers could rise to 300,000 men and 225,000 women.

The trend in diabetes incidence predicted by the DDZ has been confirmed by the latest data of the DEGS study by the Robert Koch Institute (Study on the Health of Adults in Germany). In view of this development, there is an urgent need for organizing effective prevention programs. The present study shows that the willingness of people to participate in prevention programs is a key factor for ensuring the success of such measures, and this should be included in the planning.