Objectives: There is evidence from past decades that the number of diabetic patients has increased independently of changes in demography. A static model that takes into account only demographic changes is therefore unable to forecast the expected number of diabetic patients correctly.
Methods: We developed a dynamic model in which actual incidence, prevalence, and life expectancy data are used and alternative assumptions about future trends in these parameters can be incorporated.
Results: This dynamic model forecasts higher numbers of diabetic patients than the less sophisticated static model. According to the dynamic model, a 46% increase in the number of diabetic patients in The Netherlands can be expected, from 244,000 in 1990 to 355,000 in 2005 (about 2.5% annually). The static model forecasts a 22% increase.
Conclusions: Diabetes mellitus will become a more serious public health problem than can be expected from demographic changes only. In planning future health care, monitoring of trends in incidence, prevalence, remission, and mortality or life expectancy is a necessary prerequisite.