Diabetes cases rise by 60 per cent in the last 10 years

Cases of diabetes in England and Wales have risen by 60 per cent in the past decade, with 1.2 million more people living with the condition compared to 10 years ago, according to estimates.

The figures were taken from NHS data and analysed by the charity Diabetes UK, and showed that 3.3 million people have been diagnosed with the illness.

The figures do not take into account the 590,000 estimated to have undiagnosed diabetes.

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “Over the past decade, the number of people living with diabetes in the UK has increased by over one million people, which is the equivalent of the population of a small country such as Cyprus. With a record number of people now living with diabetes in the UK, there is no time to waste – the government must act now.”

The inability to control the level of sugar in the blood can lead to blindness and amputations and is a massive drain on NHS resources. Diabetes UK said the condition is costing the NHS £10 billion a year.

Roughly 90 per cent of cases are type 2 diabetes, which is the form closely linked to diet and obesity.

People with type 1 generally develop it in childhood and are unable to produce the hormone insulin to control their blood sugar levels.

Dr Joan St John, a GP in Brent in north-west London, where diabetes levels are some of the highest in the country, said the condition had become incredibly widespread.

She told the BBC News website: “It’s very noticeable in that not a week goes by that you don’t make a new diagnosis of diabetes, at least one or sometimes two or three; previously that might have been one a month.”

Nearly £869m was spent on diabetes drugs last year, including insulin and metformin, marking a sharp rise from the £514m being spent a decade ago

The reasons why levels of type 1 diabetes are increasing are not understood.

However, the explanation for the soaring cases of type 2 is being placed on ballooning waistlines.

Dr Martin McShane, NHS England’s Director for Long Term Conditions, said: “These figures are a stark warning and reveal the increasing cost of diabetes.

“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, it’s time to get serious about lifestyle change.”

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