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Number of UK diabetes cases hits five million — what are the key symptoms?



The number of cases of diabetes in the UK has topped five million for the first time amid rising levels of obesity.

Diabetes UK said that the nation is in a “rapidly escalating diabetes crisis” as the figure reached an all-time high.

It said that almost 4.3 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes and an estimated 850,000 are living with the condition but have not yet been formally diagnosed.

The charity has also estimated that more than 2.4 million people are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the UK.

Around nine in 10 cases of diabetes are type 2 diabetes, which is often linked to being overweight or inactive.

The condition causes the level of sugar in the blood to become too high.


People with prediabetes who are referred to the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme are 20% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to people with prediabetes who were not offered this support, new research shows. More information: https://t.co/9O1mv26zKO pic.twitter.com/7LaPamLtir — NHS Dorset (@NHSDorset) April 5, 2023

Diabetes UK said that it is worried that the high number of people who are overweight or obese – around 64% of adults in England – is translating into an increase in cases of type 2 cases.

The charity said that the condition is becoming increasingly common among those under the age of 40 and more prevalent in areas where there are higher levels of deprivation.

It said the risk factors of type 2 diabetes are “multiple and complex” and include age, family history, ethnicity, as well as being overweight or obese.

The charity has called for the government to make diabetes “central” to its forthcoming major conditions strategy to help prevent cases and support people at high risk of disease.


Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health complications if left untreated. The good news is that you can significantly reduce your risk by making small lifestyle changes with support from your local Healthier You programme. #Type2DiabetesPreventionWeek https://t.co/40aafH86dL pic.twitter.com/MrAv4McFZQ — NHS England (@NHSEngland) May 23, 2022

Without proper care and support, people with diabetes can suffer serious side effects including sight loss, amputations, strokes, heart attacks and heart failure.

The charity encourages people to be aware of the signs and symptoms of diabetes including:

The public is also urged to use the Diabetes UK’s free, online Know Your Risk tool on the charity’s website.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme – the largest programme of its kind in the world – has helped over 18,000 people avoid type 2 diabetes through expert advice on healthy eating and exercise.

“As previously announced, our Major Conditions Strategy will cover type 2 diabetes and help to reduce pressure on the NHS, and we’re helping people make healthier choices by restricting the location of foods high in fat, salt or sugar and introducing calorie labelling on menus.”

Additional reporting by PA Media.

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