Background: Data on the future diabetes burden in Scandinavia is limited. Our aim was to project the future burden of diabetes in Sweden by modelling data on incidence, prevalence, mortality, and demographic factors.
Method: To project the future burden of diabetes we used information on the prevalence of diabetes from the national drug prescription registry (adults ≥ 20 years), previously published data on relative mortality in people with diabetes, and population demographics and projections from Statistics Sweden. Alternative scenarios were created based on different assumptions regarding the future incidence of diabetes.
Results: Between 2007 and 2013 the prevalence of diabetes rose from 5.8 to 6.8% in Sweden but incidence remained constant at 4.4 per 1000 (2013). With constant incidence and continued improvement in relative survival, prevalence will increase to 10.4% by year 2050 and the number of afflicted individuals will increase to 940 000. Of this rise, 30% is accounted for by changes in the age structure of the population and 14% by improved relative survival in people with diabetes. A hypothesized 1% annual rise in incidence will result in a prevalence of 12.6% and 1 136 000 cases. Even with decreasing incidence at 1% per year, prevalence of diabetes will continue to increase.
Conclusion: We can expect diabetes prevalence to rise substantially in Sweden over the next 35 years as a result of demographic changes and improved survival among people with diabetes. A dramatic reduction in incidence is required to prevent this development.