The global increase in type 2 diabetes prevalence is well documented, but international trends in complications of type 2 diabetes are less clear. The available data suggest large reductions in classic complications of type 2 diabetes in high-income countries over the past 20 years, predominantly reductions in myocardial infarction, stroke, amputations, and mortality. These trends might be accompanied by less obvious, but still important, changes in the character of morbidity in people with diabetes. In the USA, for example, substantial reductions in macrovascular complications in adults aged 65 years or older mean that a large proportion of total complications now occur among adults aged 45-64 years instead, rates of renal disease could persist more than other complications, and obesity-related type 2 diabetes could have increasing effect in youth and adults under 45 years of age. Additionally, the combination of decreasing mortality and increasing diabetes prevalence has increased the overall mean years lived with diabetes and could lead to a diversification of diabetes morbidity, including continued high rates of renal disease, ageing-related disability, and cancers. Unfortunately, data on trends in diabetes-related complications are limited to only about a dozen countries, most of which are high income, leaving the changing character for countries of low and middle income ambiguous.
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