Diabetes UK has warned that the UK is in the grip of a ‘rapidly escalating diabetes crisis,’ as new analysis reveals the number of people living with the condition has topped 5m for the first time.
New figures show that 4.3m people are now living with a diagnosis of diabetes in the UK, with approximately 90% of the cases being Type 2. About 8% are Type 1, with the other forms of the condition make up the remaining 2%. Diabetes UK estimates there are an additional 850,000 people living with diabetes who are yet to be diagnosed, bringing the overall UK-wide figure beyond the £5m mark.
The risk factors of Type 2 diabetes are multiple and complex, and include age, family history, ethnicity, as well as living with being overweight or obesity. Social deprivation is also an issue. Factors such as income, education, housing, access to healthy food, as well as poorer access to healthcare, have been shown to be strongly linked to an increased risk of developing several health conditions – including Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes UK is concerned that the high numbers of people living with overweight or obesity across the UK – currently 64% of adults in England – is translating into an increase in cases of Type 2 diabetes.
The charity says that these figures underline why diabetes must be central to the government’s forthcoming Major Conditions Strategy and a key part of local health leaders’ plans. It argues that the focus must be on preventing Type 2 diabetes, supporting those at high risk and working to reduce health inequalities in communities where the prevalence of Type 2 is worryingly higher than the general population.