Research for a Future
without Diabetes

„Research for a future without diabetes – this is the mission of the DZD that inspires and unites us.“

Prof. Martin Hrabě de Angelis, DZD board member

Research for a Future
without Diabetes

"The DZD stands for research to benefit people with diabetes."

Prof. Andreas Birkenfeld, DZD-Sprecher

„The Germany-wide cooperation in the DZD ensures that multicenter studies can be carried out with the required number of participants.“

Prof. Michael Roden, DZD board member


Research for a Future
without Diabetes

„The DZD places particular importance on the fast transfer of lab results to patient care.“

Prof. Michele Solimena, DZD speaker



Research for a Future
without Diabetes

„The special feature of research at the DZD is the close interdisciplinary cooperation between different disciplines.“

Prof. Annette Schuermann, DZD Speaker

DZD - German Center
for Diabetes Research

Düsseldorf, 11.04.2022

Increase in Global Diabetes Prevalence – Projections Underestimate the Actual Development

An analysis of current projections of the worldwide number of people with diabetes shows that the predicted increase will be reached considerably sooner than assumed on the basis of the projection models. This indicates that the sharp increase in diabetes that is already expected in the coming decades will be even greater.

Every year, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) publishes new projections on the future development of diabetes prevalence. Researchers at the German Diabetes Center (DDZ) have now compared for the first time the extent to which the observed disease prevalence reported by the IDF differs from the IDF projections. The latest report estimates that the number of people living with diabetes worldwide reached 537 million in 2021 and will rise to 783 million in 2045. For these assessments, the IDF carries out extensive research in order to analyze the data available worldwide on the current age-specific diabetes prevalence. These data are updated and offset against the expected population development to determine the future prevalence of the disease. The IDF's projections receive worldwide attention and are used by both scientists and decision-makers to estimate the future disease burden of diabetes.

"However, we suspect that these projections underestimate the actual process and do not reflect the full dynamics of the development," said Professor Oliver Kuß, director of the Institute of Biometry and Epidemiology at the DDZ. "Our findings show that the predicted number of people with diabetes can be observed on average already about 12 years before the calculated date. This corresponds to about 195 million more people with diabetes than would be assumed based on the projection."

"These results indicate that the already significant increase could be even greater than previously assumed," said Dr. Thaddäus Tönnies, first author of the study and scientist at the DDZ. “The results also show that there is a need for further research into projection methods. Especially with regard to the data situation, there is a need to catch up worldwide, but also in Germany.”

Overall, the results of this study show that the number of people worldwide affected by diabetes could increase significantly more in the future than previously assumed. Prevention measures that reduce the risk of diabetes in the population can counteract this development. Beyond this, the DDZ and its partners will continue to raise public awareness of the topic and expand its prevention work.

Original publication:
Tönnies T, Rathmann W, Hoyer A, Brinks R, Kuss O. Quantifying the underestimation of projected global diabetes prevalence by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Diabetes Atlas. BMJ Open Diabetes Res Care. 2021 Aug;9(1):e002122. doi: 10.1136/bmjdrc-2021-002122.

The German Diabetes Center (DDZ) serves as the German reference center for diabetes. Its objective is to contribute to the improvement of prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment of diabetes mellitus. At the same time, the research center aims at improving the epidemiological data situation in Germany. The DDZ coordinates the multicenter German Diabetes Study and is a point of contact for all players in the health sector. In addition, it prepares scientific information on diabetes mellitus and makes it available to the public. The DDZ is part of the Leibniz Association (Wissenschaftsgemeinschaft Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, WGL) and is a partner of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD e.V.). 

Gordon McBane 
Pressesprecher DDZ 
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