New figures by the Yorkshire and Humber Public Health Observatory reveal that more than one in ten (11.6 per cent) deaths among 20 to 79-year-olds in England can be attributed to diabetes.
If current trends continue, one in eight (12.2 per cent) deaths among 20 to 79-year-olds will be attributable to the condition by 2010. This work is based on data that shows adults under 80 with diabetes are around twice as likely to die as those without the condition and women with diabetes have a greater increased risk of death compared to their male counterparts.
Biggest health challenge
“These new figures are truly alarming and confirm that diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK today," Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK. "There are currently 2.3 million people diagnosed with diabetes and more than half a million people are unaware they have the condition.
“Good self-management, awareness, and improved access to specialist diabetes care services are crucial if we are to curb this growing health crisis and see a reduction in the number of people dying from diabetes and complications attributed to the condition.”
Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) with the highest percentage of diabetes-attributable deaths are areas with a higher than average proportion of the population over 40 and where there are large numbers of over 40s of Asian and Black origin, who are at greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. These areas also have high levels of deprivation compared to PCTs with the lowest proportion of deaths.
The percentage of diabetes-attributable deaths varied at PCT level from 9 per cent in Buckinghamshire to 17 per cent in Newham, East London.
By using a method that combines data from previous research studies and estimates of diabetes prevalence with population and mortality data, the work is able to provide a more accurate picture of the number of deaths attributable to diabetes than from routine sources which often fail to identify diabetes or diabetes-related complications as the principal cause of death.
Whilst still around twice as likely to die as their peers without the condition, the number of deaths in the younger age groups is small compared to the older age groups.