Our new analysis shows that over 4.9 million people are currently living with diabetes in the UK, with 90 per cent of those with type 2. We have released these new figures to mark Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week, which is taking place from Monday 10 May to Sunday 16 May.
Our analysis also shows that in 2021:
- The number of people living with diabetes has hit an all-time high to reach over 4.9 million
- 13.6m people are now at increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the UK
As part of Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week, we are encouraging people to complete our free online Know Your Risk Tool to find out their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and what to do next.
Diabetes cases have doubled in the UK
Our 2021 figures show that almost 4.1 million people are now living with a diagnosis of any type of diabetes, and that there are an additional 850,000 living with type 2 diabetes, who are yet to be diagnosed.
Cases of diabetes diagnoses have doubled in the last 15 years. But research has consistently shown that for some people, combined lifestyle interventions - including diet, physical activity and sustained weight loss - can be effective in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes by about 50%.
What is Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week?
Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week is a joint initiative between us, Public Health England and NHS England. The campaign focuses on raising awareness of the risk factors that contribute to developing type 2 diabetes, and the steps people can take to reduce this risk.
Diabetes prevalence 2021 data shows a stark increase in the number of people living with a diabetes diagnosis in the UK; an increase of more than 150,000 from 2020. We estimate that there are also more than 13.6 million people at increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the UK. At this rate, we predict that the number of people with diabetes, including the undiagnosed population, is expected to rise to 5.5 million by 2030.
Type 2 diabetes risk factors
Type 2 diabetes is a complex condition with multiple risk factors. There are things outside an individual’s control that contribute to their risk, such as age, family history and ethnicity. People of African-Caribbean, Black African or South Asian descent are two to four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those from a White background.
However, our society, and our environment, both also outside the control of the individual, can also impact on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In a society that makes it more difficult to lead healthy lives, it is more likely that more people will be living with overweight or obesity.
Research shows that living with obesity is the single greatest risk factor, and accounts for 80-85% of someone's risk of developing the condition, and our previous data revealed that the number of people living with obesity in England has almost doubled in the last 20 years from 6.9 to 13 million.
What can you do if you think you're at risk?
By understanding your own personal risk, it's possible for you to get the support you need to reduce your risk. Complete our free online Know Your Risk tool to find out your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Once completed, the risk tool advises you and suggests next steps. In England, for those who are advised to be at moderate or high risk, you can sign up directly to the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP).
How the pandemic has affected people with diabetes
The pandemic has had, and continues to have, a huge impact on our society. But research and data have shown that people with diabetes have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, particularly in terms of poorer outcomes when contracting the virus. That’s why preventing or delaying cases of type 2 diabetes is more important than ever before.
Chris Askew, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, said:
“The number of people with diabetes is increasing year on year. As we look to the future post COVID-19, preventing cases of type 2 diabetes must be a public health priority.
The pandemic has shown with devastating clarity how diabetes puts you at increased risk of poorer outcomes when contracting the virus. Yet, we know that with the right support, up to half of type 2 diabetes cases − and the accompanying risk of developing life-threatening complications − can be delayed or prevented.
This Diabetes Prevention Week, we want to help people understand their personal risk of type 2 diabetes and the first step is to complete our free Know Your Risk Tool, today.
By taking just five minutes out of your day, you have the power to access information and support that could change your health for the better."
Find out more about the risk factors of type 2 diabetes and what you can do to reduce your risk.