Type 2 diabetes is an “urgent public health crisis”, says charity

The number of people with diabetes has reached a record high of 3.9 million, a major study has revealed.

The research, published by Diabetes UK, shows that 90 per cent of all cases involve type 2 diabetes, which can be avoided with a healthy lifestyle.

According to the charity, there may also be one million people living with type 2 diabetes who have yet to be diagnosed, bringing the overall number up to a potential five million.

While age, family history and ethnicity are linked to an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, obesity is by far the greatest causer, responsible for around 80 to 85 per cent of cases. According to official figures, obesity in England had almost doubled in the last two decades, from 6.9 million to 13 million, exacerbating the diabetes crisis and causing thousands of preventable deaths.

One study suggests that people with type 2 diabetes are 50 per cent more likely to die prematurely, as well as two to two-and-a-half times more likely to experience heart failure and twice more likely to have a heart attack compared to people without diabetes.

Commenting on the figures, Chris Askew, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, said: “Type 2 diabetes is an urgent public health crisis, and solving it depends on decisive action that’s led by the Government, supported by industry and delivered across our 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. This includes mandating industry to make food and drinks healthier and addressing the marketing and promotion of unhealthy foods.”

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