Savefor later Page saved! You can go back to this later in your Diabetes and Me Close

Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week 2024: Action needed to tackle rising type 2 cases among under-40s

parents and their son

For Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week 2024 (20-26 May 2024) we are calling on all political parties to commit to tackling the alarming rise in cases of type 2 diabetes among people aged under 40 years.

Our new report published this Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week, titled Reverse the Trend - Reducing type 2 diabetes in young people (PDF, 9,727KB), reveals a 40% rise in type 2 diabetes diagnoses in younger people between 2016-17 and 2022-23. 

There are now almost 168,000 people under 40 years in the UK who live with type 2 diabetes, an increase of more than 47,000 since 2016-17. 

While type 2 diabetes has historically been associated with older people, cases among under-40s have been on the rise in recent years and are now increasing at a faster rate than among over-40s.  

The impact is felt disproportionately by those from the most deprived areas and people from Black and South Asian backgrounds. Children in the most deprived areas are more than five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those in the least deprived areas.   

Our new report should serve as a wake-up call to policymakers that this is an incredibly troubling growing trend, underlining how serious health conditions linked to obesity, caused by the environment we live in, are becoming more and more prevalent in a younger demographic. 

How many people live with diabetes in the UK? 

Our new figures show that there are nearly 4.4 million people in the UK who live with a diagnosis of diabetes as of 2022-23.  

Approximately 8% of these cases are type 1 diabetes, and 90% are type 2 diabetes. The other types of diabetes make up the remaining 2%.  

There are more than 1.2 million people who may be living with type 2 diabetes and have not yet been diagnosed. This means that more than 5.6 million people now live with diabetes in the UK.  

This is a generational opportunity 

To raise awareness of our report and recommendations, and to reverse the rise and improve support so that people can live well with type 2 diabetes, we held a reception at the Houses of Parliament.  

Together with people living with diabetes, we highlighted the impact of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at a younger age, and called on the government to commit to a range of measures:  

  • Put the building blocks of health in place for every child and young person, including access to green space, affordable, healthy food, and quality housing. 
  • Improve our food environment, which is leading to obesity, by introducing delayed restrictions on junk food advertising and expanding on the success of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (sugar tax). 
  • Provide sustainable long-term investment in targeted support programmes for those most at risk of diabetes complications, to improve health outcomes and reduce inequalities. 

Colette Marshall, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: 

“Diagnoses of type 2 diabetes in people under 40 are rising to alarming levels. It’s a damning indictment of the barriers that many of us face to living a healthy life, where good food is affordable, and exercise isn't a luxury. 

“There is a generational opportunity to stop this crisis in its tracks and we are calling on all political parties to seize it. We need bold action to reverse the rising trend in type 2 diabetes, overturn our broken food environment and give every child and young person the best possible chance to grow up in good health. 

“The decisions taken now will not only determine the health of young people today, but also the next generation.” 

Help us reverse the trend 

This Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week, we’re calling for all political parties across the UK to commit to reverse the rise of type 2 diabetes in children and young adults, to give everyone the best chance to grow up in good health. Will you join us?  

Use our simple online form to add your name

Know your risk of type 2 diabetes 

Type 2 diabetes is caused by a combination of factors. These include genetics, age, bodyweight and where your body stores fat.  

People from the most deprived areas and people from Black and South Asian backgrounds are more likely to develop the condition. This inequity is exaggerated among younger adults. More than a third of adults under 40 with type 2 diabetes are from the most deprived parts of England4. 

As part of Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week, we are urging people to check their risk of the condition by using our free, online Know Your Risk tool. It takes just a few minutes to complete and advises you on your risk and suggests next steps to help reduce your risk.  

If you are at high risk, you could be referred to the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme in England. This has shown to cut the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by more than a third. Learn more on our website about the signs and symptoms of diabetes

Resources for healthcare professionals 

We’ve created a series of text template messages to help healthcare professionals share our support and information with those at risk of or living with type 2 diabetes.  

The set of three text template messages are designed to support those newly diagnosed with type 2, link people with type 2 to the latest information on remission, and provide information on prevention for those at high risk of type 2 diabetes. Learn more here

NHS England have also developed a new e-Learning programme about managing type 2 diabetes in children and young people. Access to the programme is free on the NHS Learning Hub.

Back to Top
Brand Icons/Telephonecheck - FontAwesomeicons/tickicons/uk