Researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q) predict that type 2 diabetes prevalence in Qatar will soar from 17% in 2012 to at least 24% by 2050.
Qatar is already one of the countries most affected by type 2 diabetes worldwide and, according to findings published in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice, it is set to worsen in the next three decades, driven by the ageing of the population and high levels of obesity.
The key scientific findings of the study are that the fraction of Qataris with type 2 diabetes is forecast to grow by 43% by 2050; the annual number of new type 2 diabetes cases is forecast to grow by 147% by 2050; Type 2 diabetes is forecast to consume one-third of Qatar’s health expenditure by 2050 and obesity is the main driver of the type 2 diabetes epidemic, causing two-thirds of all new cases.
Obesity is the main reason for diabetes
The WCM-Q study, ‘Forecasting the Burden of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Qatar to 2050: A Novel Modelling Approach’, was conducted with funding from the Qatar National Research Fund, a Qatar Foundation member, through the National Priorities Research Programme.
The study used sophisticated mathematical modelling techniques to forecast diabetes burden in the Qatari population up to 2050. Despite already being over twice the global average, with 17% of Qataris currently living with diabetes, it was projected that at least one in every four adult Qataris will have diabetes by 2050 .
“Not only have we projected an alarming increase in the diabetes epidemic, but we also forecast a high burden of diabetes on Qatar’s health expenditure,” said Susanne Awad, first author of the study and senior mathematical epidemiologist at the Infectious Disease Epidemiology Group at WCM-Q. “While diabetes is already consuming about 20% of Qatar’s national health expenditure, it will consume nearly one-third of the national health expenditure by 2050, according to our model.”
One of the main findings of the study is that most cases of diabetes are due to obesity. The fraction of Qataris who are obese stands currently at 41%, but was projected by the study to increase to 51% by 2050. The study also forecasts that, by 2050, 66% of diabetes cases will be caused by obesity.
Prof Laith Abu-Raddad, principal investigator of the study and professor of healthcare policy and research at WCM-Q, said, “Though there are several causes of Qatar’s diabetes epidemic such as direct genetic factors, low levels of physical activity, and smoking, the combined role of these factors was relatively minor compared to obesity. Obesity was by far the leading driver of the diabetes epidemic in Qatar.”
The study provided a framework for generating strategic information to inform diabetes public health policy, programming and resource allocation at the national level. The framework also offers a platform for extensions to assess the impact and cost-effectiveness of interventions against diabetes and its leading risk factors.
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