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Diabetes: UK at tipping point of public health emergency



Unless urgent action is taken to reverse rising case numbers, one in 10 adults will be living with diabetes by 2030, the charity Diabetes UK warns.

Almost 4.1 million people in the UK currently have some form of diabetes, the charity said, but it predicted that figure would rise to 5.5 million by the end of the decade – almost 10% of the projected adult population – based on an analysis of Public Health England and the Association of Public Health Observatories’ diabetes prevalence projection models.

In addition, the charity estimated by 2030 there could be more than 87,000 hospital admissions a year in England due to diabetes, an increase of 14% from 2020-21.

Releasing the analysis, Diabetes UK chief executive Chris Askew warned the UK was at the tipping point of a public health emergency.

‘We don’t want our prediction to become a reality. What we need to see is the will, grit and determination from government to halt this crisis in its tracks and improve the future health of our nation for generations to come,’ he said.

The charity said government funding should prioritise several key areas:

  • Increased support of diabetes prevention services.
  • Expanded access to services like low-calorie weight loss programs and bariatric surgery that can achieve type 2 diabetes remission.
  • Improved access to weight management services for those living with overweight and obesity.
  • Action to address post-pandemic backlogs of diagnoses and health checks for people living with diabetes.

The charity is also releasing a new television campaign this week which features families from across the UK who live with a diabetes diagnosis and attempts to challenge misconceptions about the condition while highlighting the impact a diagnosis can have.

Mr Askew said every diagnosis of diabetes was life-changing, and the relentlessness of the condition and the ever-present fear of serious and life-altering complications was a lifelong reality for millions of families.

But he stressed that with the right care and support, diabetes complications can be avoided, and cases of type 2 diabetes can be put into remission or prevented.

Previous research has demonstrated how the link between weight loss and diabetes remission in overweight and obese people living with disease.

Last month, preliminary results from the Diabetes UK-funded ReTUNE study were announced at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes conference showing weight loss can also benefit ‘normal weight’ people with type 2 diabetes and that they too have a chance of going into remission. The final results will be available next year.