A staggering 366 million people around the world are living with diabetes, and 4.6 million deaths happen because of the disease. Healthcare spending on diabetes has also reached $465 billion, according to new statistics released by a global diabetes authority.

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) released its new Diabetes Atlas figures on Tuesday confirming the growth in the disease. The federation released the figures at the Lisbon meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) ahead of the U.N. Summit on Non-Communicable Diseases.

IDF's latest Atlas data are proof indeed that diabetes is a massive challenge the world can no longer afford to ignore, said IDF President Jean Claude Mbanya in a statement. In 2011, one person is dying from diabetes every seven seconds. The clock is ticking for the world's leaders - we expect action from their High-Level Meeting next week at the United Nations that will halt diabetes' relentlessly upwards trajectory.

EASD Vice President Andrew Boulton said the socio-economic impact of not just diabetes, but all non-communicable diseases, is staggering.

EASD fully supports the IDF and echoes the call of Prof. Mbanya's for increased funds for medical research, he said in a statement.

The federation said research into strengthening health systems should include developing and evaluating approaches for building local health care capacity, as well as integrating diabetes care and services with primary health care services, management of chronic infectious diseases and maternal and child health.

The said if world leaders invest in research now it will result in savings in the future and reduce the still growing burden of non-communicable diseases on health systems.