Global Diabetes Epidemic

Albert Einstein College of Medicine Joins International Diabetes Federation to Address Global Diabetes Epidemic

September 13, 2011 – (BRONX, NY) – While infectious diseases tend to grab media headlines and public attention, non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and chronic respiratory diseases together comprise the number one killer in the world and represent a serious social and economic burden to developed and developing countries alike.

Dr. Louis Weiss
Louis M. Weiss, M.D., M.P.H.
The European Association for the Study of Diabetes announced today that that there are 366 million people worldwide with diabetes – more than twice the number of previous projections. That's 54 million more people than the entire population of the United States (312 million). Diabetes is also one of the costliest health problems in the world. Globally, an estimated $422 billion was spent in direct healthcare costs in 2007 for people with the disease.

As the United Nations prepares for its first-ever, high-level summit to address the growing burden of non-communicable diseases, the Global Health Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, in collaboration with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), will host the Global Diabetes Symposium in midtown Manhattan. On Sunday, September 18, from 2 to 8 p.m., leaders in global diabetes, diabetes prevention and treatment, and public health will come together to define the epidemic, discuss current responses to its underlying causes, and detail potential preventive measures and treatments.

Just added: watch video highlights of event

"Diabetes is already the fourth leading cause of death in the world," said Louis M. Weiss, M.D., M.P.H., professor of medicine and of pathology and co-director of Einstein’s Global Health Center. "Researchers, government agencies, and private industry need to unite to confront this epidemic – otherwise, the loss of life and drain on limited resources will only increase. As the world gathers to address this and related health issues at the U.N., we hope that this symposium will contribute to a better understanding of the problem and eventually the development of a solution."

Diabetes is tightly linked to the growing obesity epidemic in the U.S. – a problem seemingly of the developed world. However, inexpensive, high-calorie, low-nutrient foods are becoming increasingly accessible in the developing world as well. Compounding the problem, populations around the globe are urbanizing and adopting the more sedentary lifestyles common in cities. As poor nutrition and lifestyle habits spread, the rates of diabetes increase.

"Diabetes is at crisis level. We cannot afford to delay action any longer; the human misery and suffering caused by diabetes is unacceptable and unsustainable," said IDF president Jean Claude Mbanya. "Through research and collaboration, we can work towards finding a solution to this epidemic and in turn stop avoidable deaths and reduce the suffering caused by diabetes."

Discussing these and other issues at the symposium will be speakers from academic institutions, local and national government agencies, and industry, including:

  • Meredith Hawkins, M.D., professor of medicine and director of the Global Diabetes Initiative at Einstein, will discuss malnutrition diabetes, a mysterious type of diabetes that strikes children and adults in the developing world
  • Jean Claude Mbanya, president of the IDF, will discuss managing diabetes in low-resource countries. He will introduce Ruth Colagiuri, vice president of IDF, who will unveil a new global IDF initiative aimed at stemming the spread of the disease
  • Judith Fradkin, M.D., director of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, & Metabolic Diseases at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, will offer the agency’s perspective on global diabetes
  • Shadi Chamany, M.D., M.P.H., director of Diabetes Prevention and Control Program in the Bureau of Chronic Disease Management at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, will describe the initiatives used for diabetes prevention and management in New York City
  • Full Speaker List and Event Program

General registration for the event is closed and space is limited but to request a spot, please e-mail