Governments need to introduce stringent policies to counter air pollution and curb type 2 diabetes, says GlobalData

With a growing evidence of research to show that there is an association between air pollution and the risk of diabetes, there is a need for increased effort in health promotion and policy changes, says leading data and analytics company GlobalData.


Earlier studies have shown that air pollution increases the risk of a number of non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease and kidney disease.  However, a recently published study in the journal Lancet Planetary Health has now quantified the connection between air pollution and diabetes. According to it, increased exposure to air pollution, specifically particulate matter (PM) 2.5, is significantly associated with the risk of diabetes.

The study suggests that approximately 8.2 million healthy life years that were lost due to diabetes are attributable to air pollution. The study also reported that the burden attributable to PM2.5 had substantial geographical variability, and was more skewed towards regions that were less prepared to deal with the consequences of the excess burden.

GlobalData epidemiologists estimate that the total prevalence of type 2 Diabetes is expected to steadily increase through 2026. Based on an analysis of 16 major markets (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, the UK, and the US), epidemiologists estimated the prevalence of type 2 Diabetes to be 5.82% in 2016 and to increase to 7.96% by 2026.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes that outdoor air pollution is an important global health issue and a major cause of death and diseases. The WHO estimates that 4.2 million premature deaths every year are linked to ambient air pollution. Other health effects include increased hospital admissions, increased prescription medication, absence from work and school, and emergency room visits.

Nanthida Nanthavong, Healthcare Analyst at GlobalData, opines: “Compared to high-resource countries with stricter clean-air policies, low-resource countries with few air pollution policies are going to face a higher risk of diabetes. As several studies establish the association between air pollution and the risk of diabetes, governments need to introduce stringent policy changes for health promotion.”

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