Type 2 diabetes doubles in UK in 20 years, new data shows

by Barbara Hewitt on December 30, 2016

Like many countries the UK is facing a type 2 diabetes time bomb and now new figures reveal that the condition has doubled in people aged 40 to 60.

Public Health England puts the blame on being overweight and says that the rise in type 2 diabetes comes at a time when obesity rates have soared.

ObesityOfficials are now urging middle aged people to take their health into their own hands and eat and drink less, exercise more and help themselves against developing diabetes, which can lead to life threatening conditions.

Nearly 12 million Britons now risk developing Type 2 diabetes as modern life takes a toll on their health. In particular years of bad diets and people working at desk jobs is harming the health of the nation.

The new figures show that 77% of men and 63% of women in middle age are overweight or obese. Obesity in adults has shot up 16% in the last 20 years. Many also can’t identify what a ‘healthy’ body looks like, suggesting obesity has become the new normal.

The diabetes rate among this age group also doubled. From 1991 to 1993 some 2.8% of men in England were diagnosed with diabetes and 20 years later this increased to 6.9%. In women diabetes diagnoses increased from 2% to 4.6% over the same period.

It means that almost 600,000 people aged 40 to 60 have been diagnosed with diabetes in the last two decades and Public Health England says that obese adults are more than five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who are a healthy weight of a body mass index between 18.5 and 25.

‘People often bury their heads in the sand when it comes to health but the consequences of doing nothing can be catastrophic. Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious complications such as amputation, blindness, heart attack, stroke and kidney disease,’ said Dan Howarth, head of care at charity Diabetes UK.

‘There are an estimated 11.9 million people at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the UK because of their lifestyle and more than a million not yet been diagnosed. We want people to seek the help they need to lose weight, stop smoking and take more exercise,’ he added.

Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said busy lives are to blame. ‘People are busy with work, with families, with the daily grind and sometimes their own health is the least of their priorities,’ he pointed out.

Dr Ellie Cannon, an NHS doctor, agrees with the experts. ‘Lots of us spend our lives working very hard, not sleeping enough and not always having time to exercise, so it can be really difficult to prioritise our health. But it’s vital to find out how you really are, so that you can get the advice and support you need,’ she said.

‘It’s never too late to improve your health and making small changes now can have a huge impact on your health in the future. It can even help to reverse preventable diseases. With the new year just around the corner, there’s no better time to start living better and enjoy the health benefits that will bring,’ she added.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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