Equity in Diabetes – a PeerJ Collection for World Diabetes Day 2021

In our latest PeerJ Collection, curated for World Diabetes Day 2021, PeerJ staff editor Adya Misra brings together recently published diabetes research from around the world, with a focus on the consequences of Type 2 diabetes.


Diabetes is a chronic condition that results either from lack of proper function of the pancreas to produce insulin, or the lack of our body’s ability to process the insulin produced by it. An individual with very high blood glucose is diagnosed with diabetes, with further testing to determine the cause of this high blood glucose. While Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes differ in their etiology, their impact on the individual is very similar as management of both requires a complex interplay of healthcare services.

We know that the incidence of diabetes is increasing worldwide. According to the WHO, 1.5 million deaths in 2019 could be attributed directly to diabetes. While the numbers are very high in high-income countries, the numbers are steadily increasing in lower-middle income countries over the last decade. In combination with other healthcare burdens in resource neglected regions, diabetes is an increasing  contributor to premature mortality.

Traditionally we have believed that the cure for the rising burden of diabetes is related to our diet and that a healthy, balanced lifestyle can help individuals maintain their blood glucose levels. While this still holds true, there is an increasing body of evidence that implicates our genetics in our risk of developing diabetes. Furthermore, an increasing body of literature now focuses on the complex milieu that an individual may be exposed to in order to put them at risk of developing diabetes. This may include the neighborhood they grew up in, as well as their parents occupation and thus socio-economic footing, which in turn influences diet and lifestyle.

Understanding this element of diabetes is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century, given we continue to see steep rises in diabetes incidence. As the healthcare burden increases we must acknowledge that access to healthcare is not equitable. The theme of this year’s World Diabetes Day is access to healthcare. As the burden of diabetes increases worldwide, we must step up our efforts to provide individuals with the right information to seek healthcare, build more robust healthcare systems so those that need healthcare may be able to access it, and provide better education to at-risk populations about their risk of developing diabetes.

With this collection of recently published articles, PeerJ hopes to raise awareness of the downstream effects of developing Type 2 diabetes in various populations on World Diabetes Day. PeerJ publishes high quality articles in the field of diabetes, and especially welcomes research in individuals with Type 1 diabetes to further our knowledge of this chronic condition. You can find more PeerJ-published research on this topic in the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disorders Section of PeerJ Life & Environment.

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