More than one million people in the UK are now thought to have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes, double the previous estimate.
New figures from Diabetes Health Intelligence, a strategic programme of Yorkshire and Humber Public Health Observatory, suggest 820,000 adults in England with diabetes are undiagnosed. Based on this model, Diabetes UK estimates that the figure rises to just over a million (1.1 million) when applied to the UK and we could see the total UK diabetes population reach 5.5 million by 2030.
Douglas Smallwood, Diabetes UK Chief Executive, said: "This new estimate of a million cases of undiagnosed Type 2 cases in the UK is truly alarming. Whilst screening of at risk groups has started, notably through the NHS Health Checks programme, it is clear there needs to be greater emphasis on successful delivery throughout the country.
"We urgently also need to improve diabetes prevention and awareness programmes around the country, coupled with vastly improved support for people to change their behaviours. Avoidable in so many cases, the Type 2 diabetes epidemic is a clear example of where the new government’s rhetoric of tackling health problems through prevention must be turned into action. Failure to act now means a bleak future of spiralling NHS costs and worsening public health."
Improved access needed
Diabetes UK believes that the Government’s NHS Health Checks programme, targeting people between the ages of 40 and 74, will help identify more people with Type 2 diabetes.
The charity also wants to see improved access to health services for the many communities in the UK who, because of their social or ethnic backgrounds, may currently be excluded from mainstream services. It is also important that diabetes testing and diabetes awareness programmes are available through a variety of settings, such as pharmacies and local outreach services.