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The world is facing an "unrelenting march" of diabetes which now affects nearly one in 11 adults, the World Health Organization (WHO) says. In a major report it warned cases had nearly quadrupled to 422 million in 2014 from 108 million in 1980. High blood sugar levels are a major killer - linked to 3.7 million deaths around the world each year, it says. And officials said the numbers would continue to increase unless "drastic action" was taken. The report lumps both type 1 and type 2 diabetes together, but the surge in cases is predominantly down to type 2 - the form closely linked to poor lifestyle. As the world's waistlines have ballooned - with one-in-three people now overweight, so too has the number of diabetes cases.
The Middle East has seen the prevalence of diabetes soar from 5.9% of adults in 1980 to 13.7% in 2014. Dr Slim Slama, a WHO specialist in region, told the BBC News website: "We are the region that has experienced the greatest rise in diabetes, moving from 6 million to 43 million - it is a huge, huge increase. "In Qatar or Kuwait we have more than 20% of the population with diabetes and when you look at subgroups - people beyond 45 or 60 years old - it's 30-40% and things are even more worrying." He said growing and ageing populations were behind part of the rise, but diet and inactivity were a major problem. More than three quarters of teenagers in the region are doing less than the recommended level of exercise, he said.