Diabetes kills as many as AIDS, and is a big problem in poor countries. Dr. Martin Silink, head of the International Diabetes Federation, spoke with Mary Carmichael.
I thought diabetes was a "disease of affluence."
Not anymore—70 percent of cases are in the developing world. When people there move to cities, their risk doubles. They're less active and they eat fewer fruits and vegetables.
The numbers are especially bad in Asia. Why?
Economic development there is uncovering a genetic tendency towards diabetes. For a person of European background, the risk rises at a body-mass index of 26. But for people in Asia it starts at 22 because they put on fat in the abdominal area. That body shape is linked to insulin resistance.
How do we stop this?
We can encourage healthy eating and rebuild walking and bike paths. For the 246 million who are already sick, we have to improve care to avoid complications. In the poorest countries, old-fashioned drugs are still 80 to 90 percent effective.