Diabetes is becoming a “national health emergency”, a charity warns today as figures suggest that hundreds of people are diagnosed with the condition every day in the UK.
Diabetes UK said that more than 280,000 people a year are diagnosed with diabetes – the equivalent to the population of Newcastle.
Each day 738 people are told that they have type 2 diabetes – which is linked to being overweight – and 30 are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which is not linked to weight.
About 3.8 million people in the UK now have the condition and about 35 per cent of the population have borderline diabetes.
Diabetes UK has called for more focus on preventing type 2 diabetes, saying that if the rate of people getting the condition continues the consequences could be “disastrous”.
The chief executive of the charity, Barbara Young, said: “It is deeply worrying that more than 700 people a day are being diagnosed with diabetes and this clearly shows the frightening scale of what is fast becoming a national health emergency.
“If we continue to see people being diagnosed at this rate then the consequences will be disastrous.
“As the number of people with diabetes grows, we are likely to see even more people endure devastating health complications such as amputation and kidney failure and more people die tragically young.
“It would also lead to an increase in NHS costs that would be simply unsustainable.
“As a country, we are still not giving diabetes healthcare the priority it needs and we also need to get much better at preventing type 2 diabetes before it is too late.”
The charity estimates as many as 850,000 people have type 2 diabetes but do not realise it.
It calculates that if present trends continue, an estimated five million people will have the condition by 2025.
Prof Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said: “Public Health England welcomes Diabetes UK placing a refreshed emphasis on prevention.
“We take the growing number of people at risk of diabetes very seriously.
“We can all reduce our risk by maintaining a healthy weight, using tips from our eat well plate to get balanced, healthy portion sizes, and getting active every day.
“We know that making those small changes, no matter how old we are, will have a real impact on our health.”
People develop diabetes when there is too much glucose in the blood because the body cannot use it properly. If not managed well both types of diabetes can lead to devastating complications.
The illness is the leading cause of blindness in people of working age in the UK and is a major cause of lower limb amputation, kidney failure and stroke.
The latest figures have been derived from the National Diabetes Audit from analysis conducted by Diabetes UK and supermarket chain Tesco.