Bold action to tackle obesity and inactivity needs to be taken, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has warned, as research has suggested the number of people with diabetes suffering heart attacks and strokes will rise by 29% by 2035.
BHF found that, if the rate of diabetes diagnoses does not slow down, more than five million people could end up living with the condition over the next 20 years, compared with just under four million currently.
It claimed people with diabetes – around 90% of whom have the type 2 variant – are twice to four times more likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people without the condition.
Its forecast suggests almost 39,000 people with diabetes could suffer a heart attack in 2035, compared with 30,000 in 2015, and more than 50,000 could have a stroke (11,000 more than 2015).
The number of people with both diabetes and angina is expected to increase by 32,000 to almost 145,000, and the number with heart failure is set to rise to more than 146,000 (an increase of around 33,000), it said.
The predicted rise in diabetes diagnoses and associated health conditions was partly due to worsening lifestyles and growing obesity rates, the charity claimed.
Its CEO, Simon Gillespie, said particular attention needed to be paid to younger people: “We can only reverse this trend by taking bold action to tackle obesity and inactivity, especially amongst young people.
“This must include consideration of further regulatory action to reduce sugar and fat content in food, and to curb junk food advertising directed at young children.
“The food industry is not acting quickly enough to re-formulate its products, despite mounting evidence of their impact on the nation’s health.”
Gillespie also highlighted the need for better research into how diabetes leads to heart and circulatory conditions.
Earlier this year, Business in the Community and Public Health England published a toolkit to help employers encourage their staff to adopt healthier eating and exercise habits.
In June, a survey commissioned by Ieso Digital Health found more than half of people with diabetes had also received treatment for depression, anxiety or another mental health issue.