Data visualization reveals most diabetic nations on earth

By Eshan Wickrema and Lachlan James

The en masse productionization and productization of industry has driven heightened living standards across many parts of the world. However, this continuing transformation has also caused notable and unenviable byproducts.

The growing prevalence of technology in our working and social lives has greatly reduced the amount of incidental exercise many experience each day. Simultaneously, the commercialization of the global food industry sees many eating for taste and gratification, rather than nourishment and necessity.

Poor dietary choices (associated with pervasiveness of processed fast foods), combined with increasingly sedentary lifestyles, are contributing to increased rates of obesity. One of the most common medical issues arising from this obesity epidemic is diabetes.

So, which nations have the highest rates of diabetes in the world?

Using Business Intelligence software and data visualization techniques to assess the latest data from the International Diabetes Federation, we might just have the answer.

Diabetes prevalence by country as of 2014 (per capita, ages 20 – 79)


Insights

  • Much of Africa, particularly the west coast, exhibits low rates of adult diabetes
    • The West African nation of Mali has the world’s lowest rates of adult diabetes, with just 1.29 out of every 100 20 – 79 year olds diagnosed with diabetes
  • Caribbean and Pacific islands have the highest rates of diagnosed adult diabetes, with a strong grouping also evident amongst wealthy Middle Eastern nations, such as Saudi Arabia (20.52) and Kuwait (17.87)
    • The Marshall Islands has the world’s highest rate of diabetes amongst its adult population, with 37.37 out of every 100 20 – 79 year olds being diagnosed with the disease

Incidents of adult diabetes form distinct geographic groupings

Diabetes can be caused by genetic predisposition as well as a range of lifestyle related factors. With that in mind, it’s interesting, if not somewhat predictable, to note that nations with high and low rates of diagnosed adult diabetes tend to be found in discernable geographic clusters.

For example, Africa nations generally have low incidents of diabetes. One might infer that this pattern is representative of lower accessibility to processed foods (or food at all) and lower obesity rates. Not only does Mali (West Africa) have the world’s lowest rates of adult diabetes (1.29 out of every 100 adults), four out of the five countries with the lowest rates of diagnosed adult diabetes come from Africa (Mali 1.29, Benin 1.34, Gambia 1.56, Angola 1.99). Further still, six of the ten countries with the world’s lowest rates of diabetes belong to the African continent, and 13 of the bottom 20.

By contrast, countries suffering the highest rates of diagnosed adult diabetes are concentrated amongst small island nations in the Pacific and the Caribbean, as well as wealthy Middle Eastern nations. While the Marshall Islands ‘boasts’ the highest rate of adult diabetes (37.37 out of every 100 adults), it’s far from alone. Nine out of the ten countries with the highest incidents of diagnosed adult diabetes are island nations in the Pacific Ocean (Marshall Islands 37.37, Federated States of Micronesia 30.75, Tokelau 29.81, Cook Islands 25.44, French Polynesia 24.83, Kiribati 23.89, Nauru 23.47, New Caledonia 21.34, Guam 21.13).

Four Middle Eastern nations also make the top 20 (Saudi Arabia 20.52, Kuwait 17.87, Bahrain 17.53, Qatar 16.28), with two Caribbean island nations rounding out the world’s 20 countries with the highest rates of adult diabetes (Aruba, 16.24 and United States Virgin Islands, 16.24).

Intriguingly, 15 of the 20 countries with the world’s highest incidents of adult diabetes per capita are small island nations. If anyone knows of the underlying factors that produce this notable pattern, we at Yellowfin would love hear from you via Twitter (@YellowfinBI) or email (pr@yellowfin.bi).

While assessing the prevalence of diabetes by country from a geographic perspective divulges location-based patterns and insights, there are many other ways through which to analyze the spread of this disease, such as gender.

Diabetes disparity by gender per country as of 2014 (ages 20 – 79)


Insights

  • Of the 215 countries from which the International Diabetes Federation collected data, 126 countries (58.6%) reported a higher prevalence of diabetes amongst females
    • Of the 215 countries from which the International Diabetes Federation collected data, 89 countries (41.4%) reported a higher prevalence of diabetes amongst males

Disparity in reported incidents of diabetes by gender per capita

On average, countries included in the 2014 International Diabetes Federation study reported higher rates of diabetes amongst adult females compared to adult males. However, this overall pattern was not common amongst all participant nations. Reported incidents of diabetes per capita by gender varied markedly from country to country.

Greatest disparity in reported incidents of diabetes by gender per country

Insights

  • Of the ten nations with the greatest disparity in reported incidents of diabetes by gender, seven revealed significantly higher rates of diabetes amongst males
    • All seven of the nations with the greatest disparity in reported incidents of diabetes by gender revealed significantly higher rates of diabetes amongst males
      • Qatar reported the largest differential by gender of all 215 nations, with males accounting for 80.82% of its diagnosed diabetes cases

Given that the 215 nations which participated in the 2014 International Diabetes Federation study generally reported higher rates of diabetes amongst females compared to males (58.6% of countries compared to 41.4%), an analysis of the ten nations with the greatest disparity in diabetes diagnosis per gender was somewhat counterintuitive.

Of the ten nations with the greatest disparity in incidents of diabetes by gender, seven reported significantly higher rates of diabetes amongst males. In fact, all seven of the nations with the greatest disparity in incidents of diabetes by gender reported significantly higher rates of diabetes amongst males.

Qatar reported the largest differential by gender of all 215 nations, with males accounting for 80.82% of its diagnosed diabetes cases.

Where to next?

Many citizens of increasingly developed nations continue to eat for pleasure, rather than necessity or nutrition, while also partaking in growingly sedentary employment and leisure time activities. It’s clear that many nations will have to rethink their health policies to reduce the strain that bulging waistlines are having on the public purse.

Have real-world insights that shed further light onto the diabetes trends discussed? Please share your knowledge via Twitter (@YellowfinBI) or email (pr@yellowfin.bi).

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