The number of people with diabetes has increased by 74% in the past six years, with UK rates now rising faster than those in the US, where prevalence of the disease is among the highest in the world.
A study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health points the finger of blame at rising rates of obesity. It was based on analysis of new and existing cases of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in the UK general population.
The overall prevalence of diabetes increased from 2.8% of the population in 1996 to 4.3% in 2005, equating to an annual rise of just under 5%, and a 54% increase over the decade. The prevalence of the disease was 29% higher among men than among women.
Not only had the numbers of new cases been steadily rising, but they had been rising much more rapidly in recent years, increasing by 74% between 1997 and 2003 alone, the study established. And, while the incidence of diabetes remained lower in the UK than in the US or Canada, it appeared to be increasing at a faster pace.
Meanwhile British researchers have found that a common family of viruses – enteroviruses which usually cause the common cold or diarrhoea – may play an important role in triggering the development of Type 1 diabetes.
The study, published in the journal Diabetologia Diabetologia, concluded that, while genetics is known to play a role in a person’s risk of developing Type 1 diabetes, environmental factors including viruses can also play their part.