The research – conducted by the health charity and Tesco – based on National Diabetes Audit data, revealed 738 people each day are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The biggest risk factor for the condition is being overweight.
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “It is deeply worrying that more than 700 people a day are being diagnosed with diabetes and this clearly shows the frightening scale of what is fast becoming a national health emergency.”
‘National health emergency’
The consequences could be “disastrous” if the same rate of diagnosis continued, she added. The roots of Britain's obesity crisis and its remedies were the subject of a free, one-hour independent webinar broadcast by the Food Manufacture Group last week. See the end of this article for more details.
Type 2 diabetes now accounts for 96% of new cases of diabetes.
Young warned: “As the number of people with diabetes grows, we are likely to see even more people endure devastating health complications such as amputation and kidney failure and more people die tragically young. It would also lead to an increase in NHS [National Health Service] costs that would be simply unsustainable.
“As a country, we are still not giving diabetes healthcare the priority it needs and we also need to get much better at preventing type 2 diabetes before it is too late.”
The figures mean there are more than 280,000 people a year diagnosed with diabetes, the equivalent of the population of Newcastle, said Diabetes UK and Tesco in a joint statement. The total is much higher than previously thought, with 3.8M people in the UK now having the condition.
About 35% of the population – more than 18M people – are thought to have pre-diabetes.
Everyone aged 40 to 74
Diabetes UK urged more action to prevent type 2 diabetes. It wanted to see everyone aged 40 to 74 receive a NHS health check and for greater investment to ensure those at high risk get help to prevent them developing the condition.
The findings came as Diabetes UK and Tesco announced the extension of their national charity partnership to the end of this year. The Tesco–Diabetes UK partnership had raised £12M since March 2013 and used the retail giant's scale to deliver more than 100,000 risk assessments for type 2 diabetes, both in pharmacies and online.
Greg Sage, Tesco’s community director, described diabetes as “a growing and urgent health threat” that needed immediate action.“Today’s announcement [July 7] means there will be more support for the millions of people living with diabetes from our colleagues and customers. Tesco colleagues have embraced the partnership and demonstrated real dedication to raising money for this important cause.”
Meanwhile, the causes of Britain’s obesity crisis and its remedies were the subjects of hot debate at last week’s online seminar – Obesity and health, the big fat, sugar and salt debate – backed by three influential groups – the Institute of Food Science & Technology, the British Dietetic Association and the Nutrition Society.
If you missed the webinar, register here for your free place. Once registered, you can listen again to the webinar at any time.