Around one in 10 UK adults could be living with diabetes by 2030, a leading charity has warned.
Diabetes UK has said that without significant government action up to 5.5 million people could be living with diabetes within the next decade and 17 million people are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Its prediction is based on analysis of statistics from Public Health England (now the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities) and The Association of Public Health Observatories.
Diabetes UK said the government should make more funding available to increase access to preventative measures such as the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme and to support more people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes to go into remission where possible.
It should also improve access to weight management services and ensure that everyone has access to care and diabetes checks, including tackling the backlog caused by the pandemic.
“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,” said Diabetes UK chief executive Chris Askew.
“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.”
Currently in England, 64% of adults are classed as either overweight or obese, compared with 53% in 1993, which puts them at an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease and cancer.
The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA), a coalition formed of the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Diabetes UK and medical colleges, has urged the government to bring forth long-awaited new policies included in the Health and Care Bill, such as the 9pm watershed on junk food adverts on TV and the removal of paid-for adverts online.
It said further action is also needed to support people living with obesity, such as mandating weight management services in every area of the country and making psychological services available.
John Maingay, the British Heart Foundation’s director of policy and influencing, said: “After years of focusing on education and awareness measures, the UK government has started to move in the right direction with an obesity strategy which focuses on making the healthy option the easy option.
“We must now build on this with forward thinking policies, such as taxing companies to encourage them to produce healthier food. This will set in train the positive change we need to reduce the devastating impact obesity has in the UK today.”