United Kingdom

Call for action on diabetes care as numbers in UK more than double in 20 years

by Barbara Hewitt on February 28, 2018

The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has more than doubled in the last 20 years to 4.6 million, new data from a leading charity shows.

The number diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes has increased by almost 100,000 since last year from 3,590,501 to 3,689,509 and there are large numbers undiagnosed, according to the analysis from Diabetes UK.

(tashatuvango/Bigstock.com)

Almost nine in 10 people diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes and it is estimated that there are nearly a million people currently living with the condition who don’t know they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed. Counting this undiagnosed population, the total number of people living with diabetes reaches 4.6 million.

The West Yorkshire city of Bradford has the UK’s highest prevalence of diabetes, with 10.4% of the population living with a diagnosis while Richmond in London has the lowest incidence, with 3.6% of the population affected. The national average is currently 6.6%.

The charity points out that while type 1 diabetes isn’t currently preventable, three in five cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by making healthier choices, by helping people understand their own risk of developing the condition, and how to reduce it, and by securing early diagnosis for those known to be at high risk.

There are an estimated 12.3 million people at increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the UK, and obesity is the leading cause in the majority of preventable cases,’ it adds.

The research also shows that 59% of women, 68% of men are overweight or obese while 22% of children are overweight or obese in their first year of primary school in England and this increases to 34% by the time they leave primary school.

With so many at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, including growing numbers of children, Diabetes UK is calling on the Government to take further action to tackle childhood obesity, by introducing stricter restrictions both on junk food advertising to children, and supermarket price promotions for unhealthy foods.

To support this work, Diabetes UK is also a partner in the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme in England. This programme supports adults who are at high risk of type 2 diabetes to make lifestyle changes that could reduce their risk, and demonstrates the urgent need for similar developments in the other three nations of the UK.

‘Diabetes is the fastest growing health crisis of our time and the fact that diagnoses have doubled in just 20 years should give all of us serious pause for thought. Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes are serious conditions that can lead to devastating complications such as amputation, blindness, kidney disease, stroke and heart disease if people don’t receive a timely diagnosis and begin receiving the right care,’ said Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK.

‘With more than 12 million people across the UK at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and prevalence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes still on the rise, it’s clear there’s a huge amount of work to be done,’ he explained.

‘We want the Government to recognise the seriousness of the growing diabetes crisis, take action to help those at increased risk, and help us turn the tables on this devastating condition,’ he added.

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