With more than 420 million affected individuals, as highlighted by the WHO Global report on diabetes issued for the 2016 World Diabetes Day, diabetes is among the leading metabolic diseases and a growing burden for health systems across the globe.
In cooperation with an international team of scientists, economists Christian Bommer, Esther Heesemann, Vera Sagalova und Prof. Sebastian Vollmer from the University of Göttingen have now calculated that in 2015 the world-wide economic burden of diabetes reached $1.3 trillion or 1.8 percent of global GDP. The study was published in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
In contrast to most earlier estimates, the new study incorporates not only the direct costs of diabetes, such as health expenditure for insulin, testing stripes or the treatment of complications, but also considers indirect costs representing production shortfalls due to morbidity and premature mortality, which amounted to almost 35 percent of the total economic burden. "Our estimates demonstrate that ignoring indirect costs would lead to a dramatic underestimation of the true extent of the problem", explains Prof. Sebastian Vollmer, professor of development economics at the University of Göttingen and senior author of the study.
While the costs in wealthy countries such as Germany and the United States are, with 1.6 percent and 2.6 percent of GDP, unsurprisingly high, the study documents that also many low- and middle-income countries are facing a substantial economic burden. According to Christian Bommer, PhD student from Göttingen University and first author of the study, "especially type-2-diabetes is often seen as a disease of affluence. The fact that the prevalence of diabetes in countries such as India and China is approaching European levels is something many people are not aware of."