Dr. Tony Harries describes diabetes as a “rapidly growing pandemic.” Didn’t realize it was that bad? Consider:

382 million people are living with diabetes across the world.

Each year, 5 million people die from diabetes.

Experts like Harries, a senior advisor at the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, are seeing diabetes grow by leaps and bounds. The nations with the highest burden are China (98 million people with the disease) and India (65 million).

Harries blames urbanization: Food is getting fattier and people are getting less exercise. He suggests journalists take on the fast food and beverage industries, which he said contributes to obesity and diabetes.

He supports action-oriented public health, like former Mayor Michael Bloomberg pursued in New York City. “Tax the things that are bad for you,” Harries said. Of those who call that “nanny state” behavior, Harries said, “At the end of the day, if you get diabetes someone has to pay for it.”

Harries said there are many questions about how to treat people with both diabetes and tuberculosis. A few of them:

Is six months of anti-TB treatment adequate?

Drug-to-drug toxicity for the two diseases?

Adequate TB infection control in diabetes clinics?

Can lifestyle modifications make a difference – smoking, diet?