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More than 4.8 million Brits have diabetes

Half of cases could be prevented or delayed by making healthier life choices

The number of people in the UK with diabetes has reached more than 4.8 million, figures suggest.

According to Diabetes UK, there are 3.9 million people living with a diagnosis of diabetes – of which 90% are type 2 – and almost a million more who have type 2 diabetes but don’t yet know it.

The data the number of people living with a diabetes diagnosis has increased by more than 100,000 from last year.

At this rate, the number of people with diabetes, including the undiagnosed population, is expected to rise to 5.3 million by 2025.

People with type 2 diabetes are 50% more likely to die prematurely than those without diabetes.

They are also two to two-and-a-half times more likely to experience heart failure and twice more likely to have a heart attack.

Age, family history and ethnicity can contribute to someone’s risk, with people of African-Caribbean, Black African or South Asian descent two to four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than white people.

The single greatest risk factor, however, is obesity. While not every case of type 2 diabetes is associated with excessive weight, it is responsible for 80 to 85% of someone’s risk of developing the condition, the charity said.

Obesity in England has almost doubled in the last 20 years from 6.9 to 13 million.

Chris Askew, chief executive at Diabetes UK, said type 2 diabetes is an urgent public health crisis and solving it depends on decisive action led by government, supported by industry and delivered across society. 

“More than half of all cases of type 2 diabetes − and the accompanying risk of developing devastating complications − could be prevented or delayed by supporting people to make healthier choices,” he added.