UK to reach ‘Diabetes Tipping Point’ as 1-in-10 brits will be living with the condition by 2030, national charity warns

By Editor
6th October 2021
Diabetes UK, Latest news

More than five million adults in the UK – nearly 10 per cent of the projected adult population – will be living with diabetes by 2030, if further action is not taken to address soaring case numbers, Diabetes UK have warned today. 

The charity’s startling prediction is based on analysis of Public Health England and The Association of Public Health Observatories’ diabetes prevalence projection models.

Additional analysis from Diabetes UK also suggests that one-in-three UK adults – more than 17 million people – could also be at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 2030, without urgent action to address what the charity describes as a ‘public health emergency’.

The charity warns that unless the governments of the UK commit to urgently and sustainably investing in diabetes care and prevention, the UK is on course to reach a ‘diabetes tipping point’, with devasting human consequences.

Diabetes UK is calling on the UK Government to:

  • Make more funding available to enable more people to avoid a diagnosis of type 2 through increasing access to proven preventative measures such as the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.
  • 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.
  • Improve access to weight management services for those living with overweight or obesity.
  • Urgently address post-pandemic backlogs, to ensure swift recovery of diagnoses of type 2 diabetes and ensure that people with all types of diabetes have access to care and diabetes checks, to minimise their risk of diabetes complications.

Diagnoses of diabetes have doubled in the last 15 years, and currently almost 4.1 million people in the UK are diagnosed with some form of the condition. The charity estimates that a further 850,000 are living with type 2 diabetes but are yet to be diagnosed.

Diabetes is a serious condition, requiring constant management. Without the right treatment, care and support, the condition can lead to devastating, life-altering complications – including heart attack, kidney failure, stroke, foot disease and blindness. By 2030, if no further action is taken, Diabetes UK estimates there could be more than 87,000 hospital admissions a year in England due to diabetes. This would be an increase of 14% from 2020/21 and more than 50% higher than in 2006/07.

Chris Askew OBE, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK said: “Every diagnosis of diabetes is life-changing. The relentlessness of the condition, and the ever-present fear of serious and life-altering complications is a lifelong reality for millions of families across the UK. 

“It’s a sobering thought then that, if we don’t act today, hundreds of thousands more will face the life-changing news that they have type 2 diabetes. We’re at the tipping point of a public health emergency and need action today to stop it in its tracks.”

He added: “But it doesn’t have to be this way – we know that with the right care and support, diabetes complications can be avoided, and cases of type 2 diabetes can be put into remission or prevented altogether.

“We don’t want our prediction to become a reality. What we need to see is the will, grit and determination from Government to halt this crisis in its tracks and improve the future health of our nation for generations to come.”

The full impact of the pandemic on diabetes care is only beginning to be uncovered. But with 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.

The charity acknowledged the progress that is being made in diabetes care, including the essential investment made in England prior to the pandemic, and the hundreds of thousands of people who have to date been supported through the NHS England Diabetes Prevention Programme. But post-pandemic the country needs to play catch-up. The government needs to continue to address the challenges of the pandemic and ensure that people at increased risk of type 2 diabetes and those already living with any type of diabetes are not to pay the price in the future.

Diabetes UK’s stark warning comes as the charity launches a new TV campaign to demonstrate the real impact of diabetes on the people living with it.

The campaign, This Is Diabetes, features real families from across the UK who live with a diagnosis of diabetes. Challenging the misconceptions people with diabetes face and highlighting the huge and significant impact it has on their lives, the campaign aims to increase awareness of this serious, but much misunderstood condition.

Gina, a nurse who has type 2 diabetes said: “As a nurse, I understand the complexities of the condition and the importance of good management better than most, but life can still sometimes get in the way.

“My job can be very stressful – particularly during the pandemic – and it is hard to keep a good routine in terms of regularly checking my blood sugars and eating proper meals. I initially tried to manage my diabetes with diet. However, my blood glucose levels became dangerously high, and I temporarily lost my sight.”

She added: “People often don’t realise what a serious and all-encompassing condition diabetes can be until it is too late. I hope by sharing my story I am shedding some light on the realities of day-to-day life can be.”

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