28 Feb 2019

It is predicted this number will rise to 5.5 million by 2030

One in ten people over 40 in the UK is now living with a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, according to new analysis released by Diabetes UK. The new figures show that there are 3.8 million people living with a diagnosis of diabetes in the UK, and 90 per cent of those with Type 2.

There are almost 1 million more people living with Type 2 diabetes, who don’t know they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed, bringing the total number up to 4.7 million. By 2030 it is predicted this number will rise to 5.5 million.

The dramatic increase in obesity rates is the main driver behind so many more people living with Type 2 diabetes in the UK. Three in five adults in England are overweight or obese, and while not every case of Type 2 diabetes is caused by excessive weight, it is the single greatest risk factor for developing the condition. Age, family history and ethnicity can also contribute to someone’s risk, with people of African-Caribbean, Black African or South Asian descent two to four times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than white people.

Preventing or delaying Type 2 diabetes

Many cases of Type 2 diabetes could be prevented or delayed by healthy eating, being more active and losing weight if overweight. 

The symptoms, which involve going to the toilet a lot, being really thirsty, feeling more tired than usual and losing weight without trying, can be easy to miss especially in the early stages. The condition can go undetected for many years, and by the time they’re diagnosed one in three people already have complications with their eyes, feet, kidneys or nerves.

With 12.3 million people at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, the charity wants to raise awareness of the risk factors so that people can take steps to look after their health and prevent or delay the onset of the condition and its serious complications.

Diabetes UK is recommending that everyone use the free Know Your Risk online tool to find out their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and is urging people aged 40 or over to take up a free NHS health check.

Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said:

“Millions of Type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented if we help people understand their risk and how to reduce it. Even though the older people get the more likely they are to have Type 2 diabetes, it is never too early to know your risk so that you can make changes to prevent or delay it. 

“The signs of Type 2 diabetes are often not obvious, that’s why spotting them early can be life-changing. Early diagnosis means that fewer people will experience diabetes-related complications such as sight loss, amputation, kidney failure, stroke and heart disease, because they could seek support to manage their condition effectively as soon as possible.

“We urge people over 40 to get an NHS Health Check and we advise everyone to find out their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes with the Know your Risk tool.”

To find out your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, go to https://www.diabetes.org.uk/riskscore

To find out more about NHS health checks, go to https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-health-check/

For more stats and facts about diabetes, visit https://www.diabetes.org.uk/stats2019

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