Diabetes 'a pandemic of unprecedented magnitude'

Number of adults living with disease up 16 per cent since 2019

Diabetes 'a pandemic of unprecedented magnitude'

The global prevalence of diabetes has reached 10.5 per cent, with almost half (44.7 per cent) of adults undiagnosed.

This means that 537 million adults are now living with diabetes worldwide, a rise of 16 per cent (or 74 million) from 2019, according to a report from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF).

And by 2045, it’s estimated that 783 million adults – or one in eight – will be living with diabetes, an increase of 46 per cent, says the IDF.

That number is more than double the estimated population growth (20 per cent) over the same period.

Costly disease

Diabetes is a huge problem for employers. In fact, it was responsible for an estimated US$966 billion in global health expenditure in 2021, marking an increase of 316 per cent over the last 15 years, says the IDF.

Globally, over 90 per cent of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. But this type of diabetes can often be prevented, while early diagnosis and access to appropriate care for all types of diabetes can avoid or delay complications in people living with the condition, according to the report.

And excluding the mortality risks associated with COVID-19, roughly 6.7 million adults are estimated to have died due to diabetes or its complications in 2021. That's more than one in 10 (12.2 per cent) of global deaths from all causes, according to the IDF.

Women who work more than 45 hours per week face a 63-per-cent greater risk of developing diabetes than women who work fewer hours, according to an Ontario study released in 2018.

Supporting diabetic workers

Human rights legislation specifies that an employer must do what is necessary in the workplace to enable a person with diabetes to perform the essential duties of a job unless the employer would suffer undue hardship in terms of health, safety and cost, notes Diabetes Canada.

“For example, if an employee with diabetes requires regularly scheduled breaks during the day to have a snack or to administer insulin, the employer would be legally obligated in the vast majority of cases to permit such a break.”

Still, people with diabetes often face discrimination in the workplace simply because others do not understand diabetes and how it’s managed, according to a previous report.

Other requests for accommodation might include:

  • a private area to test blood sugar levels or to take insulin
  • a place to rest until blood sugar levels become normal after treating low blood glucose
  • a place to store snacks for treatment of hypoglycemia
  • time off to attend medical appointments.

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