The World Health Organization says excessive weight, obesity, aging and population growth drove a nearly four-fold increase in worldwide cases of diabetes over the last quarter-century, affecting 422 million people in 2014.

The U.N. health agency is calling for stepped-up measures to reduce risk factors for diabetes and improve treatment and care.

On Wednesday, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said: "We need to rethink our daily lives: to eat healthily, be physically active and avoid excessive weight gain."

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WHO reported that 8.5 percent of the world population had diabetes two years ago, up from 108 million, or 4.7 percent, in 1980.

The Geneva-based agency blamed the growing consumption of food and beverages high in sugar. Diabetes grew around the world, but increased most in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.