An update on the etiology and epidemiology of diabetes mellitus

Ernest Adeghate, Peter Schattner, Earl Dunn

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

289 Citations (Scopus)


Diabetes mellitus is one of the most common endocrine disorders affecting almost 6% of the world's population. The number of diabetic patients will reach 300 million in 2025 (International Diabetes Federation, 2001). More than 97% of these patients will have type II diabetes. The projected increase in the number of diabetic patients will strain the capabilities of healthcare providers the world over. Thus it is of paramount importance to revisit the causes and epidemiology of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes mellitus is caused by both environmental and genetic factors. The environmental factors that may lead to the development of diabetes mellitus include physical inactivity, drugs and toxic agents, obesity, viral infection, and location. While type I diabetes is not a genetically predestined disease, an increased susceptibility can be inherited. Genetic susceptibility plays a crucial role in the etiology and manifestation of type II diabetes, with concordance in monozygotic twins approaching 100%. Genetic factors may have to be modified by environmental factors for diabetes mellitus to become overt. An individual with a susceptible gene may become diabetic if environmental factors modify the expression of these genes. Since there is an increase in the trend at which diabetes prevail, it is evident that environmental factors are playing a more increasing role in the cause of diabetes mellitus. The incidence of type I diabetes ranged from 1.9 to 7.0/100,000/yr in Africa, 0.13 to 10/100,000/yr in Asia, ∼4.4/100,000/yr in Australasia, 3.4 to 36/100,000/yr in Europe, 2.62 to 20.18/100,000/yr in the Middle East, 7.61 to 25.7/100,000/yr in North America, and 1.27 to 18/100,000/yr in South America. The epidemiology of type II diabetes is equally bleak. The prevalence of type II diabetes ranged from 0.3 to 17.9% in Africa, 1.2 to 14.6% in Asia, 0.7 to 11.6% in Europe, 4.6 to 40% in the Middle East, 6.69 to 28.2% in North America, and 2.01 to 17.4% in South America.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDiabetes Mellitus and Its Complications
Subtitle of host publicationMolecular Mechanisms, Epidemiology, and Clinical Medicine
PublisherBlackwell Publishing Inc.
Number of pages29
ISBN (Print)1573316350, 9781573316354
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006

Publication series

NameAnnals of the New York Academy of Sciences
ISSN (Print)0077-8923
ISSN (Electronic)1749-6632


  • Diabetes
  • Environmental
  • Epidemiology
  • Etiology
  • Genetic factors
  • Populations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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