As belts tighten, diabetes and obesity rates bulge
The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has increased by more than 150,000 to 2.8 million in the past year, warns leading health charity Diabetes UK today.
The data, collected from GP practices, also show the nationwide figure of people registered as obese to have risen to over five and half million, an increase of more than 265,000. This now means one in 20 of the population is being treated for diabetes and one in 10 for obesity.
Around 90% of people with diabetes (2.5 million) have type 2 diabetes, which is strongly linked to being overweight or obese, leading a sedentary lifestyle and eating an unhealthy diet. In many cases the condition can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular physical activity and eating a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables but low in fat, sugar and salt.
Simon O'Neill, Diabetes UK Director of Care, Information and Advocacy, said: "Once again we see a shocking rise in diabetes and obesity rates in the UK. Many, but not all, people develop type 2 diabetes because they are overweight or obese so we must keep up the mantra of 'five fruit and veg a day', encourage daily physical activity, and warn of the potentially devastating consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle.
"The obesity-fuelled type 2 diabetes epidemic is a clear example of where the new coalition government's rhetoric of tackling health problems through prevention must be turned into action. Failure to act now means a bleak future of spiralling NHS costs and worsening public health. Diabetes is serious: if not diagnosed early or poorly managed, it can result in blindness and amputation or a shortened life expectancy from heart disease, stroke and kidney failure."
Diabetes UK is encouraging people to go online and take its new Diabetes Risk Score test (www.diabetes.org.uk/riskscore) to find out about their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. People at increased risk of type 2 diabetes can often decrease or even reverse their risk by losing weight, increasing their physical activity levels and improving their diet.
The main risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes are being overweight or having a large waist, being aged over 40 (or over 25 in Black and South Asian people) and having a close relative with diabetes. At risk waist measurements are 37 inches or more for men, except those of South Asian origin who are at risk at 35 inches or more, and 31.5 inches or more for all women.
The symptoms of diabetes are going to the toilet (urinating) all the time especially at night, increased thirst, extreme tiredness, unexplained weight loss, genital itching or regular episodes of thrush, slow healing of cuts and wounds, and blurred vision. In type 2 diabetes the signs and symptoms may not be obvious and the condition can go undetected for up to ten years meaning around half of people already show signs of complications by the time they are diagnosed. Symptoms are quickly relieved once diabetes is being treated and under control.
Around 10% of NHS spending goes on diabetes and its complications; this equates to £9 billion per year or £1 million an hour.