The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has more than doubled in the last twenty years, according to new analysis released today by Diabetes UK.
The new figures show that there are now almost 3.7 million people living with a diagnosis of the condition in the UK, an increase of 1.9 million since 1998.
The data also show that 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.
The West Yorkshire city of Bradford has the UK’s highest prevalence of diabetes, with more than one in ten people (10.4 per cent) living with a diagnosis. Conversely, Richmond in London has the lowest incidence, with 3.6 per cent of the population affected. The national average is currently 6.6 per cent.
Almost nine in ten people diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2, and it is estimated that there are nearly 1 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.
Diabetes UK said its analysis was based on latest data from NHS Digital, which do not break down the prevalence of diabetes by type, but other research has shown that cases of Type 1 diabetes are rising across the world. ‘We don’t yet know why this is the case, and that’s partly because we don’t know what causes Type 1 diabetes.
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.
Three in five women (59 per cent) and two in three men (68 per cent) are overweight or obese. More than one in five children (22 per cent) are overweight or obese in their first year of primary school in England. This increases to more than one in three (34 per cent) by the time they leave primary school.
Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: ‘Diabetes is the fastest growing health crisis of our time; and the fact that diagnoses have doubled in just twenty years should give all of us serious pause for thought.
‘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.’
Earlier this month, the Government asked the food industry to reduce the calorie count in pizza, ready meals and snacks by 20% by 2024 to help cut the number of people dying from obesity-related disease. The Public Health England report, Calorie reduction: the scope and ambition for action, estimates that this action would save more than 35,000 lives over five years, and save £4.5 billion in healthcare costs over 25 years.