Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body's systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels. Here are 10 things you should know about this epidemic disease. 

1. About 347 million people worldwide have diabetes.

2. Diabetes is predicted to become the seventh leading cause of death in the world by the year 2030. Total deaths from diabetes are projected to rise by more than 50 percent in the next 10 years. It is already the seventh leading cause in the United States.

3. There are two major forms of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is characterized by a lack of insulin production and Type 2 diabetes results from the body's ineffective use of insulin.

4. There is a third type of diabetes called gestational diabetes. This type is characterized by raised blood sugar, which is first recognized during pregnancy.

5. Type 2 diabetes is much more common than Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 accounts for around 90 percent of all diabetes worldwide. Reports of Type 2 diabetes in children – previously rare – have increased worldwide.

6. Cardiovascular disease is responsible for between 50 percent and 80 percent of deaths in people with diabetes. Diabetes has become one of the major causes of premature illness and death in most countries, mainly through the increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

7. An estimated 3.5 million people die from consequences of high fasting blood sugar each year.

8. 80 percent of diabetes deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. In developed countries most people with diabetes are above the age of retirement, whereas in developing countries those most frequently affected are aged between 35 and 64.

9. Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, amputation and kidney failure. Lack of awareness about diabetes, combined with insufficient access to health services and essential medicines, can lead to complications such as blindness, amputation and kidney failure.

10. Type 2 diabetes can be prevented. Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days and a healthy diet can drastically reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes cannot be prevented.

Source: World Health Organization