Diabetes prevalence in Ireland

Diabetes BlackboardThere are two distinct types of diabetes, one known as Type 1 diabetes and the other known to as Type 2 diabetes. The differences and similarities between the two conditions are outlined at the bottom of this page. In the absence of a register of people who have diabetes no-one can be entirely sure how many people in Ireland live with diabetes.

The total number of people living with diabetes in Ireland is estimated to be 225,840.

The International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas (2013) estimate that there are 207,490 people with diabetes in Ireland in the 20 – 79 age group (prevalence of 6.5% in the population) which is in line with previous estimates that by 2020 there would be 233,000 people with the condition, and by 2030 there would be 278,850 people with the condition.

It is estimated there are 2,750 people under 20 years of age living with Type 1 diabetes (based on the Irish Paediatric Diabetes Audit 20122 results and other young adults under 20 years attending transition clinics).

It is estimated that there are over 15,600 people over 80 years of age living with Type 2 diabetes based on the TILDA study which showed a prevalence of 11.9% in the over 75 age group.
The International Diabetes Federation’s (2012) estimates that by 2030 there will be 278,850 people with the condition ( prevalence of 7.5% in the population).
Type 1 Diabetes
The prevalence of Type 1 Diabetes, an auto-immune condition, is on the rise and is typically diagnosed in childhood. People with type 1 diabetes account for approximately 14,000 – 16,000 of the total diabetes population in Ireland i.e. 10-15% of the population of people living with diabetes.

Pre- diabetes
A VHI Healthcare Screening Projects tested 19,000 people aged 45-75 years for type 2 diabetes between 2009 and 2011. VHI Healthcare’s findings demonstrated that there were 2,400 cases of either undiagnosed type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes among those screened. When the figures are extrapolated to the Irish population of 45-75 year olds (1.38 million people) almost 30,000 could have undetected type 2 diabetes and over 146,000 people could have undetected pre-diabetes. The VHI’s screening project showed that 63% of people screened were overweight which has major implications for rising prevalence of pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.

The Slan 2007 study reported of the prevalence estimate of pre-diabetes (high risk of developing diabetes) in participants over 45 years was 19.8% which would imply there are 315,700 people in the over 45 age group at high risk of developing diabetes in Ireland in the next five years. In reality, given rising obesity levels in younger age groups, the figure is more likely 350,000 as previously.

Economic Cost of Diabetes to Ireland
The economic burden of diabetes on the Irish health care system is becoming a major challenge for the government and the HSE. Prof. J. Nolan’s seminal CODEIRE study is still the most accurate estimate of costs. The CODEIRE study was an international accredited study and examined the cost of treating type 2 diabetes in Ireland during Nov-Dec 1999, and suggested that 10% of the national health budget was being consumed treating the condition (49% on hospitalization for complications and wages; 42% on drug costs; 8-9% on ambulatory care and attending non-diabetes specialists for diabetes related complications). CODEIRE remains the best available Irish source for the cost of type 2 diabetes.
Further information on diabetes statistics relevant to Ireland from the Irish Institute of Public Health on diabetes can be accessed through the “Chronic Conditions Hub”.
Further information on the difference of Type 1 diabetes and Types 2 diabetes can be accessed here

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes
There is great potential to prevent type 2 diabetes in high-risk individuals by lifestyle intervention. There is sufficient evidence based on several clinical trials such as American Diabetes Prevention Programme8 and The Finish Prevention Study9, supporting this. These studies had a strong focus on increased physical activity and dietary modification as well as weight reduction among high risk participants.

The Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study showed in their follow-up of participants at 10 years (from the initial randomization to lifestyle intervention or no action), that Type 2 diabetes incidence in the group with lifestyle changes was reduced by 34% compared with the control group8.

The Finish Diabetes Study was more intensive with participants offered intensive lifestyle support (dietary intake, physical activity, smoking and alcohol intake) with some participants also getting oral hypoglyceamic agents and showed that addressing all the diabetes risk factors could reduce Type 2 diabetes by 80%.

Thus, in order to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, it is recommended that all people have a healthy balanced diet, take regular physical activity and attain a weight appropriate to their height. 
Take the risk test NOW

1. International Diabetes Federation Diabetes Atlas (2013) www.idf.org/sites/default/files/EN_6E_Atlas_Full_0.pdf
2. Hawkes CP, Murphy NP. (2012). Pediatric Type 1 Diabetes in Ireland – Results of First National Audit: Irish Medical Journal.
3. Kearney (2014). Oral Presentation September 4th Farmleigh Estate, Dublin.
4. Federation of European Nurses in Diabetes and International Diabetes Federation. (2012) Diabetes: The Policy Puzzle, Is Europe Making Progress? Brussels, Europe.
5. VHI Healthcare Screening Project 2010 https://www.vhi.ie/personalise/controller/PrItemDisplay?PRYear=2010&prId=23
6. Buckley C, Madden J, Balanda K, Barron S, Fahy L, Harrington J, Perry IJ, M Kearney P. (2013) Pre-diabetes in adults 45 years and over in Ireland: the Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes and Nutrition in Ireland 2007. Diabetes Medicine, Oct;30 (10):1198-203.
7. Nolan J, O’Halloran D, McKenna TJ, Firth R, Redmond S (2006).The cost of treating type 2 diabetes (CODEIRE). Irish Medical Journal 2006 Nov-Dec; 99(10):307-10.
8. Knowler WC, Fowler SE, Hamman RF, et al. (2009) 10-Year follow-up of diabetes incidence and weight loss in the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study. Lancet ;374:1677–1686.
9. Tuomilehto J. Peter Schwarz, P, Lindström, J. (2011) Long-Term Benefits From Lifestyle Interventions for Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Time to expand the efforts. Diabetes Care. vol. 34 no. Supplement 2 S210-S214