More than 5MILLION Brits now have diabetes

More than 5MILLION Brits now have diabetes as experts blame ‘rapidly escalating crisis’ on soaring obesity epidemic

  • Health experts warn Britain’s obesity epidemic may be fuelling diabetes rates
  • Officials figures for 21/22 show 4,264,477 cases of diabetes in the UK
  • But Diabetes UK have warned that cases could have exceeded five million  

Diabetes is now a ‘rapidly escalating crisis’ in the UK, as the number of people with the condition is thought to have exceeded five million for the first time.

Health experts warn Britain’s obesity epidemic may be fuelling soaring rates of diabetes, which is now alarmingly more common in people under the age of 40.

Almost 4.3 million people were living with diabetes in 2021/22, according to the latest figures for the UK.

And another 850,000 people have diabetes and are completely unaware of it, which is worrying because untreated type 2 diabetes can lead to complications including heart disease and strokes.

Approximately 90 per cent of diabetes cases are type 2 diabetes, which is linked with obesity and is typically diagnosed in middle age, rather than type 1 diabetes, which is a genetic condition usually identified early in life.

Diabetes is now a ‘rapidly escalating crisis’ in the UK, as the number of people with the condition is thought to have exceeded five million for the first time

Diabetes UK, which raised the alarm on more than five million people now potentially living with diabetes, says it is worried the rising rate has been caused by almost two-thirds of adults being obese and overweight in the UK.

Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: ‘Diabetes is serious, and every diagnosis is life-changing.

‘It’s a relentless condition, and the fear of serious complications is a lifelong reality for millions of people across the UK.

‘These latest figures show we’re in the grip of a rapidly escalating diabetes crisis, with spiralling numbers of people now living with type 2 diabetes and millions at high risk of developing the condition.’

The latest figures analysed by Diabetes UK show 4,264,477 cases of diabetes in the UK in 2021-22, up by almost 150,000 from the previous year.

READ MORE: Wegovy has been hailed as the wonder jab to end obesity but we need to stop people getting overweight in the first place… and cookery lessons at school is a good starting point, writes PROFESSOR ROB GALLOWAY 

Every hour, approximately, someone with diabetes has a toe, foot or leg amputated, while 30 people a week in England suffer serious sight loss due to diabetes.

Every week, diabetes leads to more than 770 strokes, 590 heart attacks and 2,300 cases of heart failure.

More than 700 people a week die prematurely in England and Wales because of the condition.

Diabetes and its complications are estimated to cost the NHS £10 billion a year – about 10 per cent of its total budget – and one in six people in a hospital bed has diabetes.

Diabetes UK has raised particular concerns about the number of people under the age of 40 with type 2 diabetes, which it says rose 23 per cent in the five years to 2022.

By 2027, the charity warns there could be more than 200,000 people aged 18 to 39 living with the condition.

The NHS in England is currently trialling a radical soups and shakes diet, which cuts food intake to just 850 calories a day, and can help some people reverse type 2 diabetes.

But Diabetes UK also wants a firm commitment to diabetes in the Government’s Major Conditions Strategy, including a continued focus on identifying those at high risk of type 2 diabetes and their referral to the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, which helps to reduce that risk through adopting a healthier lifestyle.

It is estimated that more than 2.4 million people are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the UK.

Mr Askew said: ‘With the right care and support, cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or put into remission.

‘What we need to see is the will, grit and determination from Government and local health leaders to halt this crisis in its tracks and improve the future health of our nation for generations to come.’

The charity encourages people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes, including needing to urinate a lot, being thirsty, more tired than usual, and losing weight without trying.

There is a free, online Know Your Risk tool on the charity’s website.

What is type 2 diabetes? 

Type 2 diabetes is a condition which causes a person’s blood sugar to get too high.

More than 4million people in the UK are thought to have some form of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is associated with being overweight and you may be more likely to get it if it’s in the family.

The condition means the body does not react properly to insulin – the hormone which controls absorption of sugar into the blood – and cannot properly regulate sugar glucose levels in the blood.

Excess fat in the liver increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes as the buildup makes it harder to control glucose levels, and also makes the body more resistant to insulin.

Weight loss is the key to reducing liver fat and getting symptoms under control.

Symptoms include tiredness, feeling thirsty, and frequent urination.

It can lead to more serious problems with nerves, vision and the heart.

Treatment usually involves changing your diet and lifestyle, but more serious cases may require medication.

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