Diabetes mellitus is a complex and progressive metabolic disorder that is characterised by persistent hyperglycaemia caused by insulin deficiency and/or insulin resistance. It has been estimated that in 2003 nearly 190 million people worldwide had diabetes. By 2025, that figure is predicted to increase by 72% to 324 million. Studies in the USA have found rates of known diabetes in the general population of between 1.2% and 6.3% depending upon age and ethnicity. In the UK, 1.4 million people are known to have diabetes; another 1 million are thought to have undiagnosed diabetes. The prevalence of impaired glucose tolerance, a pre-diabetic state of impaired glucose metabolism, may be 2–3 times higher than that of diabetes.
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