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One in 10 over 40s has diabetes, amid doubling in numbers with the condition

This article was taken from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/02/26/one-10-40s-has-diabetes-amid-doubling-numbers-condition/

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One in ten people over 40 now has diabetes, amid a doubling in the numbers suffering the condition within two decades, new figures show.

The research by Diabetes UK suggests that by 2030, around 5.5 million people will be suffering from the condition, which is fuelled by obesity.

The figures show major variation in levels of the condition across the country, with Bradford the “diabetes capital” with rates three times those of Richmond, in south west London.

In total, there are 3.8 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the  UK – an increase of 1.9 million since 1998, the figures show.

Nine in 10 cases are Type 2 diabetes, which is driven by obesity.

Almost one million more people are undiagnosed, the charity estimates, bringing the total number up to 4.7 million, a figure which is set to reach 5.5 million by 2030.

At a glance | What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high. There are 2 main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes – where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin
  • Type 2 diabetes – where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin

Type 2 diabetes is far more common than Type 1. In the UK, around 90 per cent of all adults with diabetes have Type 2.

Source: NHS.co.uk

And the charity estimates that 12.3 million people in the UK are currently at risk of developing the condition.

The trend follows soaring rates of obesity. Britain is the fattest nation in Western Europe, with rates of obesity rising even faster than those in the United States.

Two in three adults are overweight or obese.

Experts said many cases of Type 2 diabetes could be prevented or delayed by healthy eating, being more active, and losing weight if overweight.

Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “Millions of Type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented if we help people understand their risk and how to reduce it. Even though the older people get the more likely they are to have Type 2 diabetes, it is never too early to know your risk so that you can make changes to prevent or delay it.”

The charity is urging those aged 40 or over to have a free NHS health check offered by GPs.

Type 1 diabetes

Occurs when the pancreas (a small gland behind the stomach) doesn’t produce insulin – the hormone that regulates blood glucose levels. If the amount of glucose in the blood is too high, it can, over time, damage the body’s organs.

Just 10 per cent of all diabetes is type 1 but it’s the most common type of childhood diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes

The body doesn’t produce enough insulin to function properly, or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin. This means that glucose remains in the bloodstream and isn’t used as fuel for energy.

90 per cent of adults with diabetes have type 2, and it tends to develop later in life

Gestational diabetes

Around one in 20 pregnant women experience such high blood sugar that their bodies are unable to produce enough insulin to metabolise it. This needs to be managed during pregnancy but almost always clears up after giving birth.

It also said their own Know Your Risk online tool could help people to find out their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Mr Agnew said: “The signs of Type 2 diabetes are often not obvious, that’s why spotting them early can be life-changing. Early diagnosis means that fewer people will experience diabetes-related complications such as sight loss, amputation, kidney failure, stroke and heart disease, because they could seek support to manage their condition effectively as soon as possible.

“We urge people over 40 to get an NHS Health Check and we advise everyone to find out their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes with the Know your Risk tool.”

Experts said symptoms of diabetes – which include going to the toilet a lot, being really thirsty, feeling more tired than usual and losing weight without trying –  can be easy to miss especially in the early stages.

The condition can go undetected for many years, with one in three cases not diagnosed until they have developed complications with their eyes, feet, kidneys or nerves.

Under NHS plans, 5,000 people will be put on 800 calorie-a-day liquid diets in a bid to reverse the disease.

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said children should be warned in school about the risks of diabetes, with diagnosis now happening at an ever-younger age.

He said: “Telling them that they could lose a leg or go blind from the disease if they fail to look after their health might seem extreme but it’s the truth.”

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and obesity said: “The growing obesity epidemic is dangerous for the nation’s overall health and worrying for the NHS, fuelling growing numbers of people with Type 2 diabetes as well as costing taxpayers billions every year.

“This is exactly why the NHS Long Term Plan sets out radical action to tackle this growing problem by 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,” he said.

Caroline Cerny, from the Obesity Health Alliance said: “This dramatic increase in the number of people living with Type-2 diabetes is likely to spiral further as obesity rates continue to rise. The good news is that we can do something to halt this epidemic.”

“Strong measures from Government and meaningful action from the food and retail industry could transform our environment into one that encourages healthy options. This is why we need the Government to fully implement measures in its childhood obesity plan including restricting unhealthy food promotions and a 9pm watershed on junk food advertising.”