Latest official figures reveal growth of diabetes in part of the UK

by Barbara Hewitt on September 13, 2016

Most countries in the world have rising levels of type 2 diabetes even although the condition is largely preventable or manageable by lifestyle changes and the latest figures show just much numbers are growing.

The UK is one country that is battling against a rise in type 2 diabetes and where there are concerns that people are going undiagnosed and also unaware of the health complications associated with the disease.

United KingdomNew data from Public Health England (PHE) reveals that 3.8 million people in England aged over 16 had type 2 and type 1 diabetes in 2015, around 9% of the adult population, and that 90% of cases are type 2 diabetes.

Health officials point out that type 2 diabetes can be avoided and the likelihood of developing the condition is increased by being overweight, although family history, ethnicity and age can also increase risk.

John Newton, chief knowledge officer at PHE, said that the number of people with diabetes has been steadily increasing and tackling it is fundamental to the sustainable future of the NHS.

‘Diabetes can be an extremely serious disease for those that have it and treating it and its complications costs the NHS almost £10 billion a year. Developing type 2 diabetes is not an inevitable part of aging, we have an opportunity through public health to reverse this trend and safeguard the health of the nation and the future of the NHS,’ he added.

The report points out that the figures reiterate that diabetes is an increasing burden of ill health, underlining the need for urgent action to lessen the impact on individuals, as well as the health and social care system supporting them.

The model suggests that one in four people with diabetes, nearly one million, are unaware of their condition. Diabetes can lead to serious complications including foot amputation and kidney disease, and is associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

The figures also mean that based on current population trends, by 2035 some 4.9 million people will have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes currently costs the NHS £8.8 billion each year and tackling the rise in the disease is vital to the sustainable future of the health service.

It also shows that the proportion of people who have diabetes increases with age. Some 9% of people aged 45 to 54 have diabetes, but for over 75s it is 23.8%. Diabetes at older ages has even bigger health implications as people are more likely to be suffering from other diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases.

Diabetes is more common in men at 9.6% compared with 7.6% women and people from south Asian and black ethnic groups are nearly twice as likely to have the disease compared with people from white, mixed or other ethnic groups, at 15.2% compared to 8%.

‘These new estimates clearly show the scale of diabetes and the huge impact on people living with the condition. Too often people only find out they have Type 2 diabetes after they have developed serious complications, such as heart or kidney disease, or foot problems which can lead to amputations,’ said Chris Askew, chief executive of charity Diabetes UK.

‘Avoiding or delaying such devastating complications depends on people getting diagnosed earlier, so they get help and support to manage their condition well. We urge people over 40 to attend their NHS Health Check when invited. We also want people to take the necessary steps to find out their risk of developing type 2 diabetes, such as using Diabetes UK’s online Know Your Risk tool,’ he added.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the 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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