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Diabetes cases top 3.2 million

12 February 2014 08:52

Type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity and unhealthy lifestyles

Type 2 diabetes is linked to obesity and unhealthy lifestyles

New figures show the number of British adults with diabetes has topped 3.2 million, a trend which experts say confirms "an unfolding public health disaster".

Diabetes UK says the rise - from just 1.4 million 18 years ago - has been driven by increasing numbers of type 2 diabetes cases that are linked to unhealthy lifestyles and obesity.

According to the latest NHS figures just over 3.2 million adults now have a diabetes diagnosis, but estimates show a further 850,000 have the condition without knowing so.

Last year saw the biggest rise in the number of new cases since 2008, leaving about one in 17 (6%) UK adults with a diabetes diagnosis.

As well as health issues having diabetes can have implications for people going away on holiday but they can easily arrange pre-existing medical travel insurance for peace of mind.

Baroness Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: "The big increase in the number of people with diabetes confirms that we are in the middle of an unfolding public health disaster that demands urgent action."

She said the only way to bring the problem under control was to put more focus on the prevention of type 2 diabetes. And that, she said, meant identifying more people at high risk of developing diabetes and then giving them the support they need to reduce their chances of getting it.

Baroness Young said with the rapid rise in type 2 diabetes being fuelled by the UK's obesity crisis it is vital people are helped to be more physically active and given easier access to cheaper healthy food.

She added that although diabetes accounts for 10% of NHS spending - most of it going on the treatment of complications such as kidney failure, heart disease, stroke and amputation - the priority the condition is given doesn't "reflect the size of the shadow it is casting over our nation's health".

The charity's chief executive said there was now an "urgent need to grasp the nettle" and focus on preventing the complications arising in the first place.