The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) says about 366 million people are suffering from diabetes which is responsible for one death every seven seconds.
The new IDF report says diabetes kills 4.6 million people annually and figures show higher prevalence of the disease compared to the 2009 edition of the organization's Diabetes Atlas which rated the number of global diabetes cases 285 million.
The report suggested that the numbers are likely underestimated, since not all countries have good data on prevalence estimates. For countries with insufficient data, researchers have to make conservative estimates based on the data from neighboring countries.
IDF which unveiled a part of its latest figures at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) congress in Lisbon underlined the need for urgent action by world leaders in the United Nations high level summit on non-communicable diseases in New York next week.
"We don't want world leaders to forget diabetes, which is a tsunami of the 21st century," said IDF president Dr. Jean Claude Mbanya, saying that the number of patients will reach nearly 600 million within the next 20 years.
"The clock is ticking for the world's leaders," Mbanya warned. "We expect action from their meeting next week at the United Nations that will halt diabetes' relentlessly upwards trajectory."
The UN meeting will focus on global strategies for tackling the growing problem of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular problems and cancer.
According to the new IDF estimates, diabetes is putting a great pressure on health costs worldwide. Based on the report, overall global spending on patient care for diabetes is about 465 billion dollars.
The new figures on the prevalence and cost of diabetes are to be published in the fifth edition of the Diabetes Atlas in mid-November.