Ann Arbor, MI

Michigan Study: Half a Billion People Around the World Now Have Diabetes

Joseph Serwach

University of Michigan study: Only 10% of diabetes patients are getting proper treatment

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A new University of Michigan study shows most people with diabetes don't know they have it.Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Could you have diabetes? Diabetes could be the next great killer, new University of Michigan research concludes.

Michigan, one of America’s “fattest states” with some of the highest COVID-19 rates over the past year. Diabetes could be the next great killer, the study shows.

Just 10 percent of diabetes patients are getting the proper treatment, researchers found, saying most don’t even realize they have diabetes. The study, published in Lancet Healthy Longevity, compared people in 55 middle-income and low-income nations.

“Diabetes continues to explode everywhere, in every country, and 80% of people with it live in these low- and middle-income countries,” David Flood, lead author and a National Clinician Scholar at the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, said in a statement.

Michigan researchers found:

  • The patients more likely to receive evidence-based diabetic care: women, highly educated individuals, high-income individuals, and older patients.
  • Half of all diabetes patients took drugs to low their blood sugar, and 41 percent were taking a prescription for low blood pressure.
  • Just 6.3 percent of diabetes patients were receiving cholesterol-lowering medications.
  • Less than a third of people with diabetes were getting counseling on diet and exercise, which can control their health threats.
  • Even among patients properly diagnosed with diabetes, 85 percent were taking medication to lower blood sugar. Still, only 57 percent were on a blood pressure medication, and just 9 percent were taking cholesterol medication, but more than two-thirds received diet or weight-loss counseling.

Diabetes is America’s seventh leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the №1 cause of kidney failure, lower-limb amputations, and adult blindness. In the past 20 years, the CDC estimates the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled.

Calling diabetes “a silent killer,” another Michigan doctor said he regularly screens for it because the test is just $12, and he can “catch many silent diabetics before the real damage sets in.”

Researchers analyzed data from surveys, examinations, and tests of more than 680,000 people between 25 and 64 worldwide. Researchers found more than 37,000 had diabetes, but more than half hadn’t been formally diagnosed (but had a key biomarker showing elevated blood sugar).

Across the United States, 8.3 percent of Americans have diabetes. Still, in Michigan, at least 11 percent have diabetes, giving the state the 19th largest number of cases among the 50 states.

The Michigan researchers recommend comprehensive care including “low-cost medicines to reduce blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels; and counseling on diet, exercise, and weight.”

“It confers a high risk of complications such as heart attacks, blindness, and strokes,’’ Flood added. “We can prevent these complications with comprehensive diabetes treatment, and we need to make sure people around the world can access treatment.”

To read the full University of Michigan study, visit:

The state of diabetes treatment coverage in 55 low-income and middle-income countries.

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