About 366 million people worldwide have diabetes and a person dies from it every seven seconds, world health officials said Tuesday.
The International Diabetes Federation described the number of cases as staggering and called for strong measures to stem the epidemic. The federation says it's time for global officials to step up and commit more time and research to prevent diabetes.
Spending on the disease has reached 465 billion U.S. dollars, according to IDF.
The IDF made the announcement at a meeting with the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Lisbon, Portugal. The statement comes a week ahead of the United Nations high-level meeting on non-communicable diseases.
The vast majority of those with the disease have Type 2 -- the kind linked to poor diet, obesity and lack of exercise -- and the problem is spreading as people in the developing world adopt more Western lifestyles, Reuters reported.
The federation estimates that diabetes, Types 1 and 2, causes 4.6 million deaths every year. Four of every five people with the disease live in developing countries, with most affected men and women being of working age.
Type 1 diabetes mainly affects children and young adults, who are unable to make insulin. Type 2 (formerly called adult onset) diabetes is more common and is often tied to obesity. It develops when the body doesn't produce enough insulin to break down glucose, inflating blood sugar levels, MSNBC reported.
Approximately 1.9 million people aged 20 and older in the U.S. were diagnosed with diabetes in 2010, according to a 2011 fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Diabetes affects 25.8 million people in the U.S., or 8.3 percent of the population, according to the fact sheet. The CDC estimates that 7 million of these people are undiagnosed.