More people getting type 2 diabetes but they are living longer

by Barbara Hewitt on March 17, 2017

The number of people in the UK with type 2 diabetes has quadrupled over the last two decades but people with the condition are living longer, according to a new study.

The increase is common in many countries around the world and it is linked to rising obesity levels with this latest study from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine confirming this.

The number of people diagnosed has increased from 700,000 cases 20 years ago to 2.8 million now, according to the study based on data collected by GP services in the UK between 1991 and 2014.

The study also found that between 1993 and 2010 the proportion of obese people in the country increased from 13% to 26% for men and from 16% to 26% for women.

But the researchers say that the figures also reveal a marked increase in life expectancy for people with the disease and this partly explains its increased prevalence. One reason why is that diabetes is being detected earlier so those with the condition have access to lifestyle advice and medication earlier.

‘Increased life expectancy from the disease could be due to earlier diagnosis of the condition as well as drugs such as blood pressure tables and statins for blood cholesterol,’ said professor Craig Currie from the university’s School of Medicine.

The research also found that the prevalence of diagnosed type 2 diabetes increased with age, although this increase is lower in people aged 80 years and above. The disease prevalence was also generally higher in men than in women above the age of 40 years. Below the age of 40 it was similar.

It is estimated that around 4.5 million people live with diabetes in the UK and more than 90% of these have type 2 diabetes which is associated with weight and lifestyle.

According to Chris Askew, chief executive of charity Diabetes UK many do not realise how serious the condition can be. If not properly managed it can lead to serious consequences such as blindness, limb amputation, kidney failure and stroke. Figures have revealed that every week there are over 100 amputations due to people not controlling their diabetes properly.

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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