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December 2019

Obesity rates double in two decades

The number of people who are obese in England has almost doubled in the last twenty years from 6.9 to 13 million, according to an analysis by Diabetes UK.

The figures from the Health Survey for England (1997-2017) estimate that there are now 13 million people over the age of 16 with a BMI of 30 or above which classifies as obese, an increase of more than 6 million since 1997.

In England 29% of adults and 20% of 10 to 11 year olds are living with obesity, the most significant risk factor for new cases of type 2 diabetes(T2D), accounting for 80 to 85% of an individual’s risk.

Obesity is the main driver behind the leap in T2D cases over the last 20 years. There are an estimated 2.85 million people diagnosed with T2D in England alone, and a probable 850,000 who have yet to be diagnosed, bringing the total to 3.7 million.

Launching its new five-year strategy last month, Diabetes UK called for sustained government and industry action on health and obesity. Chief executive Chris Askew said: ‘Through our new strategy we’re restating our commitment to tackling the diabetes crisis on all fronts.

‘We’re facing an urgent public health problem. Tackling this requires ambitious and sustained action from national governments, across sectors and departments.

‘We will keep challenging government and industry to put in place regulations and practices that make healthy choices easier for everyone. Without action, more people will develop type 2 and gestational diabetes – but we can change this.’

Reducing the number of people getting type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes is one of five key outcomes in the new strategy, which the charity launched to mark World Diabetes Day 2019 (14 November).

The strategy aims to achieve five key outcomes by 2025:

  • More people with type 1, type 2 and all other forms of diabetes will benefit from new treatments that cure or prevent the condition.
  • More people will be in remission from type 2 diabetes.
  • More people will get the quality of care they need to manage their diabetes well.
  • Fewer people will get type 2 and gestational diabetes.
  • More people will live better and more confident lives with diabetes, free from discrimination.

Diabetes UK. A generation to end the harm.