Almost one in 10 people in the UK will have diabetes by 2030, a charity has warned.
About 5.5 million people are likely to be living with diabetes within the next decade, putting them at risk of “devastating complications” including heart attacks, kidney failure, stroke, amputation and blindness, Diabetes UK said.
Chris Askew, the charity’s chief executive, said the country is “at the tipping point of a public health emergency” and action is needed “to stop it in its tracks”.
Unless something is done to stem the rise in cases, Diabetes UK estimates there could be more than 87,000 hospital admissions a year in England by 2030 for the condition. This would be an increase of 14% from 2020/21 and more than 50% higher than the figure for 2006/07.
Additional analysis from Diabetes UK also suggests one in three UK adults – more than 17 million people – could be at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 2030.
Ways to cut down your risk of diabetes
Diabetes UK tells Huffpost:
Manage your weight
If you’re overweight or obese and are at high risk of type 2 diabetes, losing just 5% of your body weight can significantly reduce your risk. There are lots of ways you can lose weight and it’s about finding what works best for you.
Making healthier food choices and being more active are both positive ways to start making these changes. If you need help with managing your weight, a dietitian can help you. Your GP surgery may also be able to help you find weight management services in your local area.”
Eat a healthy and balanced diet
There’s no one special diet for all people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. But, the food and drink we have in our overall diet is linked to our risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The good news is that by changing some of your food and drink choices, you can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. The following have been linked with a decreased risk:
- Mediterranean diet
- Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet
- vegetarian and vegan diets
- the Nordic diet
- moderately cutting down on carbohydrates.
The charity said the following foods also have also been associated with a decreased risk: fruit and veg (including specifically green leafy veg, blueberries, grapes and apples), wholegrains, yogurt and cheese, and unsweetened tea and coffee.
Be more active
If you spend a lot of time sitting down, this is known as a sedentary lifestyle. Being sedentary is linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
So being active in your daily life can help to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. This doesn’t mean you need to take up a new sport or join the gym. You could make small changes so that you are being more active every day. Think about taking phone calls standing up, using stairs instead of the lift, and going for a walk on your lunch break.
At the moment, almost 4.1 million people in the UK are diagnosed with either type 1 diabetes (which accounts for fewer than one in 10 cases) or type 2, which is heavily linked to obesity and can also be influenced by age, ethnic background and family history. It is thought a further 850,000 people are living with type 2 diabetes but do not know it.
To tackle the problem, Diabetes UK is calling for action such as enrolling more people in the NHS diabetes prevention programme.
The programme aims to help people reach a healthy weight, learn to eat better and make regular exercise a part of life.
The charity also wants people who are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes to go into remission where possible through measures such as tailored weight-loss advice or gastric band surgery.
It also wants to see access to weight loss programmes expanded and assurances that people with all types of diabetes will get their regular NHS checks to cut the risk of complications.
The charity’s chief executive, Askew, said: “Every diagnosis of diabetes is life-changing. 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. 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.”
Diabetes UK has launched a new TV campaign, This Is Diabetes, featuring families across the UK living with the condition.
Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and obesity at NHS England, said: “Diabetes can have a marked effect on people’s lives, with higher risks of heart attacks, strokes, limb loss, many of the common forms of cancer, and more severe outcomes with Covid-19 but, thanks to better NHS treatment and care, the outlook for people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes has improved considerably over the last few decades.
“As part of its Long Term Plan, the NHS is already delivering the world’s largest type 2 diabetes prevention programme to support people reduce their risk of developing the condition, as well as piloting the use of low calorie diets in those who have recently had a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes in order to achieve remission.”