Diabetes mellitus affects about 60 million people in Europe representing 10.3% of men and 9.6% of women aged 25 years or older. The prevalence of diabetes mellitus is increasing in Europe in all age groups, which is primarily attributed to increasing rates of overweight and obesity, unhealthy diet and lack of exercise. Globally, about 3.4 million people die each year due to the effects of diabetes. The WHO assumes the number of deaths due to diabetes will double from 2005 to 2030.1
In Austria, the prevalence of diabetes is estimated to be about 5-7%.2
The precursors to diabetes (“prediabetes”) are already associated with an increased risk of vascular diseases (coronary heart disease, stroke) and an increased mortality rate, so efficient strategies for early detection and prevention are needed.3

Diabetes mellitus describes a group of metabolic diseases which have in common elevation of blood sugar level, called hyperglycaemia. Classical symptoms of severe hyperglycaemia are increased urination, increased feeling of thirst, fatigue and drop in performance, otherwise unexplainable weight loss, vision disorders and susceptibility to infection up to metabolic imbalance triggered by the hormone insulin (ketoacidosis) with the risk of coma. A chronically elevated blood sugar level disrupts the hormone insulin, which is responsible for glucose uptake in the body’s cells and is associated with long-term damage and dysfunction of various tissues and organs (eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and blood vessels).4
Diabetes mellitus is subdivided into five types based on clinical characteristics such as autoimmunity (which is the inability of the body to recognise certain components as its own), age, body mass index (BMI), long-term blood sugar (HbA1c), function of the insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas and the degree to which the body’s cell respond to the insulin hormone (insulin sensitivity).5

Diabetes is diagnosed based on the blood sugar in a fasting state, oral glucose tolerance test and the long-term blood sugar (HbA1c). For each person with diabetes mellitus, an individual therapeutic goal should be defined. Diabetes treatment is based on a lifestyle modification with healthy diet (balanced, fibre-rich and healthy varied diet), adequate exercise (at least 30 min/day, five times per week at moderate intensity, two times strength training per week) and reduction of weight if needed (approx. 5-10% depending on the starting weight). A change in lifestyle at the prediabetes stage can be very effective long term in preventing diabetes—a reduction in diabetes risk of 39% could be shown in studies. Different medications are available for treatment depending on the type of diabetes.4


1 World Health Organisation (n.d.). Diabetes. Diabetes EURO (who.int)
2 Schmutterer I, Delcour J, Griebler R (Ed.). Österreichischer Diabetesbericht 2017 [Report on Diabetes in Austria 2017]. Vienna: Federal Ministry of Health and Women, 2017
3 Huang Y, Cai X, Mai W, Li M, Hu Y. Association between prediabetes and risk of cardiovascular disease and all cause mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2016;355:i5953. doi:10.1136/bmj.i5953. BMJ 2016;i5953:355
4 Harreiter J, Roden M. Diabetes mellitus – Definition, Klassifikation, Diagnose, Screening und Prävention [Definition, Classification, Diagnosis, Screening and Prevention] (Update 2019). Wien Klin Wochenschr 2019;131[Suppl 1]:S6–S15. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00508-019-1450-4
5 Zaharia OP, Roden M. Eine neue Diabetesklassifikation für präziseres Management. [A new diabetes classification for more precise management.] Diabetes Forum 02/2022. Eine neue Diabetesklassifikation für präziseres Management | Diabetes Forum (medmedia.at)