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One person diagnosed with diabetes every three minutes

Type 2 diabetes numbers fuelled by obesity epidemic

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 01 April 2019

One person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes every three minutes, new research shows.

The analysis published today by Diabetes UK reveals that 202,665 people were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in England and Wales in 2017, the most recent year for which statistics are available. That amounts to 23 people every hour, or one person every three minutes.


Of these new diagnoses in 2017, 192,245 were in England and 10,420 were in Wales. A further 16,216 people were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in Scotland during the same time period. Statistics are not available for Northern Ireland.

The alarming rate at which people are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has been fuelled by the obesity epidemic, states Diabetes UK. Three in five adults in the UK are overweight or obese. While other factors like age and ethnicity affect a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, being overweight is the most significant risk factor that can be changed, and accounts for 80-85% of a person’s risk.

Recently released figures from Diabetes UK showed the number of people living with diabetes in the UK has risen to 4.7 million, and is expected to reach 5.5 million by 2030. NHS England currently spends 10% of its annual budget on treating diabetes and its associated complications. If nothing changes this will increase as more people develop the condition. Some 90% of people diagnosed with diabetes have type 2.

Chris Askew, chief executive at Diabetes UK, said: “One person being diagnosed every three minutes illustrates the frightening speed at which the number of people living with type 2 diabetes is increasing. However, three in five cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by eating well, being active and achieving a healthy weight, meaning there is hope for the future.

“We need urgent action to prevent as many of the 12.3 million people at increased risk of type 2 diabetes from developing the condition. The first step is helping people understand their risk using the Diabetes UK Know Your Risk tool.”

Diabetes UK has teamed up with NHS England and is encouraging people to find out their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by using the Know Your Risk tool.

Chris Askew continued: “The second is giving people the knowledge and resources necessary to help them reduce their risk by eating healthily, moving more and losing weight if necessary.

“Action must also be taken to tackle the obesity epidemic, which has contributed to the rise of type 2 diabetes. While we encourage everyone to eat more healthily and move more, it’s equally important that the government tackle our obesogenic environment, and make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

Dr Partha Kar, associated clinical director for diabetes for NHS England said: “These figures underline the importance of wider action on obesity prevention, and confirm the importance of the action set out in the NHS Long Term Plan including expanding the NHS Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Programme so that 200,000 people every year can benefit, and introducing a pilot of very low calorie diets that have been shown to put type 2 diabetes into remission in a significant proportion of those that already have it.”

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