The rate of diabetes in Qatar is significantly higher than the regional and global rates. In 2008, WHO estimated the global prevalence of diabetes to be 10% in adults above 25 years; with the highest rates reported from the Eastern Mediterranean region and the Americas (11% for both sexes)
It is estimated that in 2012 approximately 17% of the adult Qatari population had diabetes.
(Source: Qatar Stepwise Survey, 2012)
The 2012 Stepwise survey found that the percentage of men and women who were either on medication for hyperglycemia or had a fasting blood glucose level of equal to or more than 5.6 mmol/L amounted to 23.4% and 22.1%, respectively. Therefore, it is believed that 22-23% of Qataris could be identified as being pre-diabetic or diabetic – considerably above the global rate. The worldwide prevalence of elevated fasting blood glucose in 2008 was 9.8% in men and 9.2% in women.
As with most affluent countries around the world, Qatar has seen an increase in the number of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Once considered an illness only among adults, there has been a dramatic rise in the incidence of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents during the past decade. Furthermore, the increasing rate of obesity is the single biggest factor for the rise in type 2 diabetes in children.
People with diabetes have an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. In fact, around half of all diabetics die from cardiovascular disease. Additional health complications associated with diabetes include the development of foot ulcers, leading to limb amputation, vision problems due to long-term damage to blood vessels in the eyes and kidney failure. Diabetes also negatively impacts on the quality of life of those affected, with diabetics requiring life-long monitoring and treatment.
As with the majority of non-communicable diseases, healthy lifestyle habits such as exercise and good diet are vital elements of prevention. The Diabetes Objectives set out in this strategy prioritize the need to raise public awareness of these healthy habits. Screening is also an area of focus due to the importance of early detection. The sooner diabetes is diagnosed and treated, the lower the risk of complications.