Around 3.8 million adults in England are living with diabetes, according to new figures released by Public Health England.
Of those, roughly 90% are cases of type 2 diabetes. PHE estimates that 940,000, a quarter of people with diabetes, are unaware of their condition.
‘Too often people only find out they have Type 2 diabetes after they have developed serious complications, such as heart or kidney disease, or foot problems which can lead to amputations,’ said Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK.
The figures also show that the proportion of people who have diabetes increases with age. While 9% of people aged 45 to 54 are affected by diabetes, it rises to 23.8% in the over 75s.
‘Developing Type 2 diabetes is not an inevitable part of aging, we have an opportunity through public health to reverse this trend and safeguard the health of the nation and the future of the NHS,’ said John Newton, chief knowledge officer at PHE.
Diabetes occurs in 9.6% of men compared with 7.6% of women. People from south Asian and black ethnic groups are nearly twice as likely to have the disease compared with people from white, mixed or other ethnic groups, (15.2% compared to 8.0%).
According to PHE, by 2035 4.9 million people will have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes currently costs the NHS £8.8 billion each year and tackling the rise in the disease is vital to the sustainable future of the health service.
To help tackle the problem, the Healthier You Programme was launched earlier this year. The programme, which has been rolled out across roughly half the country, aims to reduce the risk of patients developing diabetes, by offering a referral to an improved diet, weight loss and increased physical activity programme.
‘Our prevention programme puts people in control of their health by giving them the tools and information they need to make small changes to their lifestyles to significantly reduce their risk of the disease and the complications associated with it such as stroke and kidney failure,’ said Jenifer Smith, the programme’s director.
The programme will have full coverage across England by 2020, by which time 100,000 people will be able to access personalised help to prevent them developing the disease.