Diabetes is one of the largest health issues of the 21st century. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 29 million people have diabetes in the U.S. — 9.1 percent of the population.
How does the U.S. compare to other nations when it comes to levels of diabetes? Using data from the International Diabetes Federation to find the countries and territories with the highest rates of diabetes in 2015 (the most recent year available), the following is a ranking of countries with the highest diabetes rates in the world.
The report from the IDF includes levels of diabetes prevalence for people aged 20 to 79, as well as the number of diabetes-related fatalities and total number of diabetes cases. The IDF prevalence figures are age-adjusted to account for different age structures in various countries. For context, also included is the average amount spent per person with diabetes for each country, as reported by the IDF. These amounts are measured in international dollars, a hypothetical currency with the same purchasing power parity of U.S. dollars in the U.S. at a given point in time.
The data from the IDF includes the prevalence of both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes (either diagnosed or undiagnosed). Type 1 occurs when the pancreas makes insufficient insulin; Type 2, the more common variety, occurs when the body has difficulty producing and using insulin.
The ranking is dominated by small island nations, particularly in the Pacific Islands. Many countries in this region have dealt with malnutrition and inadequate food labeling, especially as they import more processed food. Countries in the Middle East also showed reported elevated levels of diabetes. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar all made the top 10.
Note: Ties are broken by the number of diabetes-related deaths. There are countries where certain variables are not monitored and could not be extrapolated accurately by the IDF; these were therefore left blank.