2017-09-13Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.17886/RKI-GBE-2017-062
Prevalence, incidence and mortality of diabetes mellitus in adults in Germany – A review in the framework of the Diabetes Surveillanc
Continuous monitoring of the key epidemiological indicators of diabetes is necessary for evaluating the magnitude of diabetes as a public health problem, but is currently not being undertaken in Germany. A comprehensive literature review covering the last decades was conducted to give an overview of population-based studies reporting on diabetes prevalence, diabetes incidence, and diabetes-related mortality among adults in Germany. This review differentiates between known and unknown diabetes, but not between individual types of diabetes. Numerous studies have identified a considerable increase in the prevalence of known diabetes among the adult population over time. Until the 1960s, the prevalence of known diabetes remained below 1%. However, current nationwide estimates for Germany are much higher and range between 7.2% (population aged 18 to 79 years) based on health examination surveys of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), 8.9% (population aged 18 years and over) based on RKI telephone health interview surveys and 9.9% (among all age groups) based on statutory health insurance data. Few available estimates point to an increase in the incidence of known diabetes since the 1960s. For example, a comparison of data from the diabetes register of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) in 1960 with current follow-up data from RKI survey participants shows that incidence rates increased from 1.2 (all age groups) to 6.9 (population aged 18 to 79 years) per 1,000 person-years. Data on diabetes-related mortality are also scarce, but indicate that excess mortality persists among people with known diabetes compared to those in the same age group without the condition, despite the finding of decreasing mortality rates among people with known diabetes. For example, the mortality rate based on early data from the GDR diabetes register was 1.9-fold higher among people with known diabetes than among the general population; current mortality follow-up data of RKI survey participants show a 1.7-fold higher mortality rate among people with known diabetes compared to those without the condition. Given the limited data that are currently available and the considerable variation of diagnostic criteria, it is not possible to estimate time trends in the prevalence, incidence or mortality of unknown diabetes. An extension of available health monitoring approaches and an improved use of existing data sources for secondary analysis are needed for a reliable evaluation of dynamics in diabetes epidemiology in Germany. To achieve these goals, a national diabetes surveillance system is currently being established under the auspices of the RKI.