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Parliament calls for EU diabetes strategy

The EU needs a dedicated strategy to tackle its growing diabetes problem, says a resolution adopted by MEPs on Wednesday. This is essential to improve research cooperation and focus on prevention and early diagnosis, they say. Diabetes is estimated to affect more than 32 million EU citizens.

MEPs say the EU strategy should target diabetes prevention, diagnosis, management, education and research. It should complement EU countries' efforts, though MEPs note that many do not have a national diabetes programme.

Parliament adopted the resolution with an overwhelming majority by a show of hands.

Fund and coordinate research

MEPs urge continued funding for diabetes research through EU research framework programmes. The Commission should draw up standardised criteria and methods for data collection and there should be broader efforts to join up research efforts.

Prevention and early diagnosis

Type 2 diabetes is a preventable disease. MEPs say the EU and Member States should use environmental, food and consumer policies to tackle known risk factors such as obesity. EU countries should also ensure adequate education on healthy eating and physical exercise in schools, they add.

Diabetes is frequently diagnosed too late, which can have serious health consequences. MEPs want EU countries to make early diagnosis a priority in their national programmes.

Diabetes in the EU

According to various studies cited by the resolution:

  • in addition to the EU's estimated 32 million diabetes sufferers, there are another 32 million citizens with impaired glucose tolerance, which has a high probability of progressing to clinically manifest diabetes,

  • the number of people living with diabetes in Europe is expected to increase by 16.6% by 2030, as a result of the obesity epidemic, the ageing of the European population and other factors,

  • up to 50% of all people with diabetes are currently unaware of their condition,

  • 325,000 deaths per year are attributed to diabetes in the EU, and

  • in most Member States, diabetes accounts for over 10% of healthcare expenditure.

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