10-20-2008, 01:53 PM
Quote:Britain's diabetes population has risen by more than 167,000 since last year, figures show.
The total number of sufferers is now almost 2.5 million with the latest increase more than double the 2006 to 2007 rise of 83,000.
In England, an almost seven per cent increase means the number of people with diabetes has passed two million for the first time, the charity Diabetes UK said.
Over the same period the proportion of people with diabetes rose by 6.8 per cent in Northern Ireland and six per cent in Wales.
Scotland experienced the biggest rise in the UK - 16.7 per cent - partly due to improved recording of cases.
Almost nine in 10 diabetes sufferers have the type 2 form of the disease which is strongly associated with obesity and lifestyle.
There are around five million obese people in the UK, compared with almost 4.8 million last year.
Douglas Smallwood, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: "These are truly alarming figures.
"Part of why we have seen such a huge increase can be attributed to improved screening from healthcare services and greater awareness amongst those at high risk of type 2 diabetes.
"However, there is no getting away from the fact that this large increase is linked to the obesity crisis."
He added: "Diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK today.
"It causes heart disease, stroke, amputations, kidney failure and blindness, and more deaths than breast and prostate cancer combined.
"The NHS already spends one million pounds an hour on diabetes. The soaring diabetes prevalence will continue to put a massive strain on an already struggling NHS and unless it can respond, people's health could spiral downwards.
"We need to do all we can to raise awareness of the seriousness of diabetes and help people understand how a healthy lifestyle can help reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes."
As well as the people diagnosed with the disease, there are thought to be more than 500,000 people in the UK who have type 2 diabetes but do not know it.
The condition can go undetected for up to 10 years.
Half of people with the disease already have symptoms and complications by the time they are diagnosed, according to Diabetes UK.
The charity recently launched its Silent Assassin awareness campaign to promote awareness of diabetes and its effects.