Diabetes: a growing epidemic around the globe

Diabetes has grave social and economic implications for individuals and society. It is a huge challenge both in the developed world and in developing countries.

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates that 371 million people live with diabetes worldwide. This amounts to 8.3% of the world population.

In Europe, the number of people with diabetes currently stands at 55 million. Estimates indicate that an additional 21.2 million people are yet to be diagnosed.

The high number of undiagnosed diabetes cases means that millions of people are at risk of costly and debilitating diabetes complications, including nerve and kidney disease, blindness, amputation and stroke.

Along with the human suffering from these devastating complications comes an increasingly heavy economic burden. In 2012, 138.8 billion Euros were spent on diabetes in Europe.

Costs include those for healthcare as well as economic costs to the wider society in loss of productivity, early retirement and associated lost opportunities for economic development.

Diabetes is not just a Western problem; 80% of all diabetes-related deaths occur in low to middle income countries, so finding ways of providing affordable access to healthcare is critical.

The Diabetes Grand Tour was developed to demonstrate how exercise and diet can help people manage (and prevent) diabetes.  The Tour was also developed to demonstrate how new technology solutions can help people to address the challenges we face with diabetes, collectively and individually.

We wanted an environment that would be physically challenging both for the participants and for the technologies.  The Tour is designed to enable people with diabetes to participate, where appropriate use technology solutions, and show that it is possible to manage the condition in extreme circumstances.

Tackling diabetes requires charitable funding

Here's how we plan to help

Charities need funding to advance diabetes care, prevention and cure worldwide.

The mHealth Grand Tour is being delivered in partnership with the International Diabetes Federation European Region (IDF Europe). Representing 66 diabetes organisations in 47 European countries, the IDF Europe's mission is to advance diabetes care, prevention and cure.

The mHealth Grand Tour is a great way to help this mission. Up to and during the ride we will be showcasing innovation in diabetes care and demonstrating mHealth solutions.

These solutions are designed to help people with diabetes, together with their healthcare professionals, optimise management of the condition and maintain an active lifestyle.

We will look to demonstrate mHealth solutions, such as connected blood glucose monitors, that are available in the market and are already helping patients manage diabetes and improve their lifestyles.

We will also be looking to stimulate innovation by encouraging people to explore how mobile technologies can be applied to the prevention and management of diabetes. We will be letting people know our successes, and also the lessons we are learning, on the way!

The Tour will also enable us to raise funds for charity: We are providing charity places, and hosting a charity event in Barcelona. In addition, to help tackle this global challenge, we are encouraging individual or team riders, should they wish, to raise funds for diabetes charities and/or their own personal charities too.

The mHealth Grand Tour is a not-for-profit activity. We are dependent on corporate sponsorship and the generosity of our suppliers to deliver the event. Any funding we raise, beyond that needed to deliver the event, will be donated to diabetes charities. We hope this donation will be substantial.

Diabetes facts and figures

  • In 2013 382 million people had this disease, which is expected to 592 million by 2035 (IDF Diabetes Atlas 6th Edition)
  • In 2013, it is estimated that 56 million people had diabetes in Europe. This is expected to increase to 69 million by 2035 (IDF Diabetes Atlas 6th Edition)
  • One person dies every 6 seconds as a result of diabetes (IDF Diabetes Atlas 6th Edition)
  • 80% of people with diabetes are living in low and middle income countries. (IDF Diabetes Atlas 6th Edition)
  • In Europe, about 75% of people with diabetes die of cardiovascular events - the number one cause of death in Europe. (The Policy Puzzle, 3rd Edition, IDF Europe, 2011)
  • Europe is home to the highest number of children with type 1 diabetes in the world (IDF Diabetes Atlas 6th Edition)
  • In 2013, the world spent US$584 billion on diabetes care, 11% of global health expenditure (IDF Diabetes Atlas 6th Edition)
  • Global expenditure on diabetes care is predicted to rise by up to 34% by 2030 (Zhang Survey (4) in 2011)
  • The cost of diabetes to the NHS is 10% of the NHS budget for England and Wales and equates to over £25,000 being spent on diabetes every minute. (Diabetes.co.uk October 2012)
  • Estimates show that the cost of prescribing medication for complications of diabetes is around 3 to 4 times the cost of prescribing diabetes medication. (London School of Economics report in 2012)

Key facts (mHealth)

The potential of mHealth: some key facts and figures
  • It is estimated that some 30% of smartphone users are likely to use wellness apps by 2015.
  • In the US, more than 80% of physicians are now using smartphones for personal and general use, and increasingly, doctors will use their smartphones - as well as other devices such as tablets - as digital assistants.
  • By speeding up processes, reducing the possibility for human error, and avoiding duplication, remote access to centralised electronic health records can reduce administrative burdens by 20 to 30%.
  • Early indications of the Whole System Demonstrator Programme in the UK show that if used correctly, the use of technology as a remote intervention can lead to: a 20% reduction in emergency admissions, a 14% reduction in bed days and a 45% reduction in mortality rates.
  • Trials in Nordic countries show that mHealth could generate a 50-60% reduction in hospital nights and rehospitalisations for patients with COPD.
  • Taking data collected from pilots and projects in Scotland and Norway, it is estimated that mHealth could reduce overall elderly care expenditure by 25%.
  • Currently, there are over 800 mHealth deployments worldwide, of which 101 are in Europe.