UK diabetes figures soar

London: The number of people suffering from diabetes continues to rise, according to new figures from Britain’s National Health Service. And the epidemic of obesity is to blame say officials.

The numbers suffering from the disease in England has increased by 124,000 in a year to 1.89 million. The total figure is estimated at 2.1 million – compared with just 1.4 million a decade ago. The statistics are based on figures from doctors.

More than a fifth of men and women, and one in 15 schoolchildren, are now classed as obese.

Doctors have long warned this represents a health crisis because being overweight is a major trigger for Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the condition.

The World Health Organisation recently estimated that by 2015 diabetes could be killing 41,000 Britons a year – a 25 per cent rise on the current total of around 33,000.

Experts said the latest rise in cases proves that action must be taken to improve our lifestyles.

Diabetes occurs when the body loses the ability to process blood sugar, leading to dangerously high levels which can damage organs.

Type 1 develops at a young age, while Type 2 typically occurs in later life. However, high obesity levels mean Type 2 is increasingly developing at younger ages and now makes up an estimated 75 per cent of cases. They represent an increase in prevalence of diabetes from 3.3 to 3.6 per cent of the population.

The Black Country and North-East London had the highest rates of diabetes at 4.1 per cent of their populations. The lowest rate was in the Thames Valley, at 2.9 per cent.