Skip to content ↓
CEO Perspective

Diabetes: Stronger Policies Needed

José Luis Castro President & CEO of Vital Strategies

Diabetes is an Epidemic. We can change that.

Statement from José Luis Castro, President and Chief Executive Officer at Vital Strategies, on global increases in diabetes detailed in the International Diabetes Federation’s new Diabetes Atlas

“We applaud the International Diabetes Federation on the launch of the Diabetes Atlas and encourage governments and health professionals to use it to inform their strategies to improve the management and prevention of diabetes.

“Continued rapid increases in the number of people living with diabetes reflect a shocking lack of political will. As many as nine in 10 cases of diabetes may be preventable, but governments are failing to implement strong policies that could reduce risk factors for type 2 diabetes like overweight and obesity. They must act to change the path of this epidemic, or 700 million people could be living with diabetes by 2045—an unacceptable human and economic cost and an unsustainable burden on already strained health care systems. 

No single policy can reduce diabetes, but a comprehensive set of strong, integrated health policies that make the healthy choice the easy choice could make a difference. Governments must have the political will to stand up to vested interests and put policies that prioritize healthy diets and physical activity before corporate profits. As the Diabetes Atlas shows us, the cost of inaction is too high.” 

Policies that could help to make a difference include:

  • adopting and enforcing policies that reduce consumption of hyper-processed foods and sugary drinks, including tax increases and restrictions on availability and marketing. 
  • implementing clear warning labels on the packaging of foods and beverages high in sugar, salt, fats and energy. 
  • using urban design and school and transport policies to encourage physical activity. 
  • using strategic communications activities to promote healthy foods and physical activity, from childhood.

Diabetes is among the top 10 causes of death globally, with almost half of deaths occurring in people under the age of 60 years and IDF estimates that diabetes is responsible for an estimated USD 760 billion in health expenditure in 2019.

The new Diabetes Atlas, released to coincide with World Diabetes Day on November 14th, details alarming growth in the global prevalence of diabetes. IDF estimates that 463 million (one in eleven) adults are living with diabetes worldwide – an increase of 38 million since the publication of the last edition of the Atlas in 2017. Around 90 percent of all people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, which is largely preventable. 

The Obesity Prevention Program changed to the Food Policy Program in 2020.