There were 347 million people with diabetes worldwide in 2008, according to international team of researchers working with The World Health Organization (WHO).

The research was published in The Lancet today. Diabetes happens when the cells of the body cannot take up sugar in the form of glucose.

The figure is shocking as diabetes cases has doubled since 1980 and grew much faster the estimated figure (by scientists) of 285 million cases.

Researchers said that growth in population and increase in longevity in various countries contributed to 70% of the increase in the numbers of diabetics.

However, the remaining 30% was related to changes in diets, exercise habits, and other factors.

To diagnose diabetes, doctors measure the levels of glucose in a patient's blood after they have fasted for 12 to 14 hours. A fasting plasma glucose (FPG) below 5.6 millimoles per litre (mmol/L) is considered normal; above 7 mmol/L is considered diabetic.
The study also found that diabetes has increased most significantly in Pacific Island nations, which now have the highest level of diabetes in the world.

Among high-income countries, the rise in diabetes was relatively small in Western Europe and the highest in North America.

Of the 347 million people with diabetes, 138 million live in China and India and another 36 million in the US and Russia.

The region with the lowest glucose levels was sub-Saharan Africa, followed by East Asia and Southeast Asia.

The study, the biggest ever of its kind, was conducted by an international collaboration of researchers, led by Professor Majid Ezzati from Imperial College London and Dr. Goodarz Danaei from the Harvard School of Public Health.

The study included blood sugar measurements from 2.7 million participants aged 25 years and over and used advanced statistical methods for analyzing data. However, researchers admitted they encountered many obstacles and limitations in assembling the data for their study.

Prevention of Diabetes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), risks of having diabetes can be reduced by:

1 . Learning about diabetes - what you can do to control your diabetes

2 . Being physically active every day- dance or walk !

3 . Learning what you should eat. A registered dietitian can help you plan your meals

4 . Making wise food choices - less fat, low salt. More fiber (fruits and vegetables)

5 . Visiting your doctor or health care provider