Year after year, the Intermutualistic Agency (IMA) is seeing an increase in the number of diagnoses. The IMA database, with data from all health insurance funds, shows that the proportion of people with diabetes in Belgium rose to 6.8% of the population in 2021. At the start of the analyses, in 2009, this was 5.1%.
This increase is noticeable in all age groups, but is particularly seen among the elderly population. 18 percent of people ages 65 to 74 have some form of established diabetes. In general, the disease affects men more than women. There is also a socio-economic disparity: the number of diagnoses per 100 low-income Belgians is double that of high-income citizens.
Underestimating the numbers
Experts point out that the numbers are an underestimate. Many people do not realize they have diabetes. It is estimated that one in ten Belgians has some form of the disease.
The numbers show us that we need to focus more on prevention. The earlier we detect the disease, says Diabetes Lega, the fewer the consequences. This indicates not only the suffering of patients, but also the pressure on the health budget.
Preliminary calculations by the Sciensano Health Institute show that diabetes cost our healthcare system around €1.7 billion in 2018. The costs per person are estimated at €2,476 per year.
Experts see several explanations for the increase in the number of diagnoses. Population aging plays a role and our lifestyle is a cause for concern. Unhealthy eating and lack of exercise contribute to certain forms of diabetes.
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