Diabetes, Italy emergency


The incidence of


in Italy has more than doubled and continues to grow. 800,000 new cases in the decade 2000-2010 alone. This is the finding of the study just published in Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases.. (1) A hitherto neglected public health emergency is emerging, requiring drastic measures on advertising, labeling and purpose taxation.

Diabetes, Italy emergency

The analysis was developed from the ‘Istat multi-purpose surveys: health conditions and use of health services‘ on samples of subjects over the age of 20, representative of the general Italian population.

Diabetes is confirmed as a chronic disease with high impact on the health care system and destined to grow in future years.’ (2) This is the dramatic conclusion of the researchers, who have accurately traced the parable of a real emergency in Italy. With serious impact on individuals’ quality of life, as well as the resulting social and public health costs.

The study shows how the prevalence of diabetes has increased, over the period 1980-2013:

– 3.3% to 7.1% (+115%) in the male population, 4.7% to 6.8% (+45%) among women,

– diagnoses increased from 1.6 to 3.4 million.

With a higher occurrence in the population with low schooling and in the ‘elderly’ (over 65 years of age).

The numbers are expected to grow in the years to follow, according to the researchers, as a result of the aging population ‘but also for the increased prevalence of overweight/obesity’. In line with the predictions of the International Diabetes Federation (3) and with the trend International.

Diabetes and noncommunicable diseases, the rules that are needed

The statistical fact is inescapable, diabetes is a real epidemic that already affects nearly 6 percent of the Italian population and is still growing. The incidence of type 2 diabetes-which accounts for 90 percent of cases, in the study-is after all linked to unbalanced diets and unhealthy lifestyles. Prevention is crucial, but the instruments adopted so far in public-private synergy have not even served to mitigate the phenomenon.

All it takes is a can of Coke to exceed the WHO-recommended daily sugar threshold for an adult individual by 20 percent. The food-waste sends the immune system into a tailspin, but its


on the web and the

social networks

knows no bounds, in spite of WHO recommendations.

Drastic rules are needed. Prohibition of all forms of advertising and commercial promotion on foods that qualify as HFSS (High Fats, Sugar and Sodium), o junk-food. Taxing sugary drinks, just as WHO suggested (4) and Minister Maurizio Martina recently prevented.

The color codes on labels

of second industrial processing foods, the so-called semaphores, albeit in the French version


To help less-educated consumers-the very ones the Italian study shows are most susceptible to diabetes-reduce excesses. With the sole exclusion from all the above measures of traditional foods derived directly from agricultural raw materials (e.g., fruit juices, honey, oils, dairy products, processed meats and fish products).

It is impossible


curb the scourge of noncommunicable diseases, to which the largest study ever conducted on the subject-in 195 countries, between 1995 and 2016(in The Lancet

) – attributes one in five premature deaths. And far more diseases, the costs of which cannot be borne by individuals and the community alone. (5)

Dario Dongo


(1) R. Gnavi, A. Migliardi, M. Maggini, G. Costa, Prevalence of and secular trends in diagnosed diabetes in Italy: 1980-2013, on Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.numecd.2017.12.004

(2) The prevalence of diabetes in Italy from 1980 to 2013, Presentation of the above study, at http://www.epicentro.iss.it/problemi/diabete/PrevalenzaItalia1980-2013.asp
(3) ‘
Global estimates of diabetes prevalence for 2013 and projections for 2035′, L. Guariguata, D.R. Whiting, I. Hambleton, J. Beagley, U.Linnenkamp, J.E. Shaw, on Diabetes Res Clin Pract, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.diabres.2013.11.002

(4) See most recently WHO/WHO document Reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to reduce the risk of unhealthy weight gain in adults, at http://www.who.int/elena/titles/ssbs_adult_weight/en/

(5) Purpose taxation serves precisely to spread over the producers of junk food at least part of the social costs of the diseases it causes, the so-called. NCDs, Non Communicable Diseases https://ncdalliance.org/