Crisis alert as cases of diabetes hit 3.7m

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The number of people living with diabetes has doubled in the last 20 years, a charity has said.

Diabetes UK said the condition is the “fastest growing health crisis of our time” as it found that the number of people diagnosed with the condition across the UK has reached almost 3.7 million – an increase of 1.9 million since 1998.

Meanwhile, a further 12.3 million people are at an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to the charity’s analysis. And the number of people 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.

Bradford has the UK’s highest prevalence of diabetes, with one in ten people (10.4%) in the West Yorkshire city diagnosed with the condition. The lowest prevalence is in Richmond, west London, where just 3.6% of people are living with a diagnosis, the charity found.

The national average is 6.6%.

The charity also estimates that there are nearly one million people who have diabetes but are not aware of it. Almost nine in ten people diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes, which has been linked to factors such as obesity.

“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,” said Diabetes UK chief executive Chris Askew.

“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.

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. 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.”

Diabetes UK has called on the Government to introduce stricter restrictions both on junk food advertising to children and supermarket price promotions for unhealthy foods.

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and obesity at NHS England said: “This is important work that shines a light on the growing obesity crisis sweeping the country.

“It is a public health crisis associated with more heart attacks, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and other avoidable illnesses - causing personal suffering and costing the health service and in turn the taxpayer, billions every year. And for all of those conditions, wherever possible, prevention is preferable to cure.

“Diabetes UK rightly highlight the importance of our diabetes prevention programme, which can support good weight management, as well as helping people at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes stay healthy, but while we are doing our bit, this is a battle we cannot win alone.”