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Sharp rise in BME diabetes diagnoses

New research shows there has been a sharp rise in type 2 diabetes diagnoses in people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds.

Since 2009/10, cases of type 2 diabetes have risen by 21% , with a 26% increase amongst those from black backgrounds and 23% increase in people from Asian or Asian British backgrounds. 

Figures from the National Diabetes Audit, released today, showed that there was a 31% increase in those from African backgrounds and 26% increase in those of Pakistani origin.

However, diagnoses in people from white backgrounds have only increased by 14%.

Virendra Sharma, chair of the Diabetes in BME Communities Working Group said: “The increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes in BME communities is reaching a critical stage. Diabetes is silently destroying our communities and we are still not doing enough to stop it. Many people from South Asian, black African and black African Caribbean communities are not aware of their increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and we know that delays in seeking help can lead to more complications and increased costs for the NHS.

“We need to help local doctors and nurses to raise awareness of the risks of developing type 2 diabetes and implement services that recognise the specific needs of different BME groups. In some areas of England there are initiatives in place to improve awareness and understanding in BME groups through outreach events or by providing training for community leaders. The NHS needs to continue to do more to reduce incidences of diabetes related stoke, amputations and heart failure.”

A new report from the House of Commons aims to provide commissioners with the tools to raise awareness and understanding of the significant impact that diabetes can have in BME communities.

The report also recommends that NHS commissioners seek to raise awareness and understanding in BME communities through working with community groups and local authorities, providing culturally sensitive dietary advice and through targeting the NHS health check at people from the age of 25 onwards.

New figures released today from Parliamentary Questions also show that cases of diabetic retinopathy, which can cause blindness, have doubled in the past five years, from 53,076 diagnoses in 2007/8 to 108,212 cases in 2011/12.2 

People with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of developing significant complications such as heart failure, stroke, amputation and blindness if their illness is left undiagnosed or is poorly managed.