One in Four 80-Year-Olds in Germany Has Type 2 Diabetes

Epidemiologists at the German Diabetes Center (DDZ), a partner of the DZD, have analyzed data of 65 million people with statutory health insurance (GKV) from the years 2009 and 2010. The result: 9.9 percent of the insured people were diagnosed with diabetes in 2010. In comparison to the previous year, this represents a slight increase in all age groups. In relation to the total population, researchers estimate that 5.8 million people in Germany have type 2 diabetes. Each year nearly 600,000 people are newly diagnosed with diabetes.

“The data have shown for the first time that in Germany one in four persons older than 80 years has type 2 diabetes” said Prof. Dr. Oliver Kuß, director of the Institute of Biometry and Epidemiology at the German Diabetes Center. “Further studies shall show the extent to which this population group needs increased health care and has an increased risk of complications and mortality, said his colleague,” PD Dr. Wolfgang Rathmann. Until now there have hardly been any studies for the age group older than 80 years, since they are usually underrepresented in population-based studies, according to the researchers. From their results, the scientists derived a prevalence of about 24 percent of the persons older than 80 years in Germany, which corresponds to approximately one million people with type 2 diabetes in this age group in Germany.
The overall incidence of all age groups could also be estimated from the insurance data. Thus, in 2010 570,000 people received a diabetes diagnosis. This figure exceeds all previous estimates. “The high number of new cases in our study can be explained by the lack of data in other studies. There we lacked the important age group of over 80 years,” said Rathmann. If the data is extrapolated to the year 2015, a total of 595,000 people received a new diabetes diagnosis, which is almost equivalent to the population of the city of Düsseldorf.
Due to the lack of data, epidemiological studies in Germany on diabetes mellitus until now have only allowed imprecise statements about specific age groups, and thus they cannot be reliably extrapolated to the population as a whole. Through the data transparency directive (2012) and the provision of routine health insurance data from all statutory health insurance companies for the first time, a crucial data gap could now be closed. Scientists of the DDZ calculated new estimates of the incidence of type 2 diabetes in Germany in relation to age groups and also to gender-specific age groups in Germany as well as the overall prevalence and incidence.

In 2009, diabetes was diagnosed in 9.7 percent of the 65.6 million people with statutory health insurance, in 2010 the figure was 9.9 percent. After standardization to the German population, the overall prevalence diabetes was 6.9 percent (2009) and 7.1 percent (2010). 2.5 percent of the diagnoses were for other types of diabetes or unclear diabetes. 0.3 of the diagnoses were for type 1 diabetes.
It was found that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes starting from about the age of 50 in both years covered by the study increased dramatically and peaked for health-insured people at around 25 percent in the octogenarian age group. Between the ages of 40 and 80, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in men increased significantly higher than in women. After age 80, the prevalence for both men and women was on the same level and dropped in the age group of 100 years and older.

The study was published in the journal "Deutsches Ärzteblatt".