Without preventive action, one in 10 adults will have diabetes by the end of the decade, says Diabetes UK

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Nearly one in 10 of the UK’s adult population will be living with diabetes by the end of the decade unless further action is taken to prevent and treat both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, an analysis by Diabetes UK has shown.

In addition to the projected 5.5 million adults (10% of the projected adult population) who could be living with diabetes by 2030, an extra 17 million people could also be at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 2030, according to the UK’s leading diabetes charity.

Diabetes UK estimates that by 2030 there could be more than 87,000 hospital admissions a year in England due to diabetes, representing an increase of 14% from 2020–2021, and an increase of more than 50% from 2006–2007.

Unless the governments of the UK commit to urgent and sustainable investment in diabetes care and prevention, the charity says, the UK is potentially on course to reach a ‘diabetes tipping point’, with devasting consequences including the possible complications of heart attack, renal failure, stroke, diabetic foot disease, and diabetic retinopathy.

Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: ‘We’re at the tipping point of a public health emergency, and need action today to stop it in its tracks.’

He emphasised that the projected cases could be prevented if the right support was made available. ‘Cases of type 2 diabetes can be put into remission or prevented altogether.’

The charity added that the effects of the pandemic on diabetes care is only now starting to surface. A recent study presented at this year’s virtual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, found that, over a 6-month period in 2020, more than 6.6 million diabetes tests, including 5.2 million diagnostic and 1.4 million monitoring HbA1c tests, were missed nationally in the UK.

Diabetes UK noted that with so many ’millions of people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes not getting all their vital, recommended health checks, and thousands of type 2 diabetes diagnoses being missed or delayed last year—the need to take decisive action is more urgent now than ever.

Diabetes UK called for greater emphasis to be placed on the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (DPP) and for the Government to ’significantly expand access to interventions to help people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes go into remission where possible, such as low-calorie weight-management programmes and bariatric surgery’, and to ’improve access to weight management services for those living with overweight or obesity’.

The projected increase applies to both type 1 and type 2 diabetes, but mostly the latter given that type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% of cases. Data are based on Public Health England’s 2015 report on diabetes prevalence estimates, and 2011 reports for Scotland and Wales from the Association of Public Health Observatories. Estimates of at-risk population levels come from the Health Survey for England by NHS Digital.

Diabetes UK is also launching a new TV campaign, This Is Diabetes, to demonstrate the real impact of diabetes on the people living with it. It features real families from across the UK who live with a diagnosis of diabetes, illustrating the significant impact it has on their lives, and the challenges the misconceptions people with diabetes face. 

This article originally appeared on Medscape, part of the Medscape Professional Network


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