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Northern Ireland’s prediabetes population reaches 73,500

A person checking their blood glucose levels

New figures released by the Department of Health (DOH) indicate an 11.4% increase in the number of people registered with prediabetes in Northern Ireland.

Prediabetes, also known as non-diabetic hyperglycaemia, is where a person’s blood sugar levels are higher than usual, but not high enough for them to receive a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

The DOH report, which takes into account people aged 17 and above, also highlights an increase in the number of people registered with diabetes across the five healthcare Trusts.

Registered cases of the condition have increased from just under 112,000 to almost 115,000 over the last 12 months. A breakdown of the data across all Trust areas is as follows:

Trust / Breakdown                            Diabetes                                 Prediabetes

Belfast                                                 24,238                                     12,491

South Eastern                                     20,353                                     11,764

Northern                                              29,994                                     19,984

Southern                                             22,155                                     17,841

Western                                              17,933                                     11,446

Prevalence reporting has been in place for approximately 20 years, with the 2023/2024 figures highlighting that diabetes diagnoses have more than doubled since then. Prediabetes prevalence reporting was first introduced in last year’s report, indicating that 66,000 people were registered with prediabetes at that time.

Diabetes UK Northern Ireland Interim National Director, Roxanne Small, said:

“These new figures are significant in showing us that nearly 200,000 people are living with, or at risk of diabetes in Northern Ireland. In our work, we see first-hand how it is an incredibly tough and relentless condition that can have a huge impact on a person’s life – therefore, it is vitally important that people are aware of the resources and support available to help manage their health and wellbeing.

“Whilst the reporting of prediabetes cases is relatively new for Northern Ireland, the increase we’ve seen over the last year is considerable. We strongly believe that greater awareness and reporting across the region have played a strong role in this rise. Prediabetes has been a real topic of conversation when speaking with members of the public as they are keen to understand more about it and how they may be able to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”

It is unlikely for people with prediabetes to experience any of the traditional diabetes symptoms known as the 4Ts: Toilet, Thirsty, Tired, Thinner.

For those who may have concerns, it is recommended that they contact their GP surgery to request a blood test. The most common test checks a person’s HbA1c levels, which are their average blood glucose levels over the last two to three months.

HbA1c levels between 42mmol/mol – 47mmol/mol are considered higher than normal and suggest a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“We understand that for some people it may feel that a prediabetes diagnosis means that type 2 diabetes is certain, however, this is not always the case. While you may be at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, many people can reduce their risk, and it may be possible to prevent or delay the condition from developing," Roxeanne added. 

For anyone with concerns, we really encourage you to contact your healthcare team and reach out to our helpline for local support. Our website also has a free Know Your Risk tool that can tell you more about your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

To learn more about the support offered by Diabetes UK Northern Ireland, please visit www.diabetes.org.uk/NorthernIreland or email n.ireland@diabetes.org.uk. The charity also has a dedicated helpline team that can be reached Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm on 0345 123 2399.

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