The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in Northern Ireland has increased by 62.5% in the last decade, according to new analysis released today by us here at Diabetes UK Northern Ireland.
The new figures show that there are now 92,480 people diagnosed with the condition, an increase of 35,556 adults compared with 2007. The data also shows that the number of people who have been diagnosed with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes has increased by 4,175 since last year – from 88,305 to 92,480.
Almost nine in ten people diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2, and it is estimated that there are 11,521 of people currently living with the condition who don’t know they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed. Counting this undiagnosed population, the total number of people living with diabetes in Northern Ireland reaches 104,001.
In the UK there are now nearly 3.7 million people with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and nearly 1 million people who have Type 2 diabetes but don’t know they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed.
The Northern Trust area appears to have the highest prevalence in Northern Ireland, with 23,878 of people living with diabetes (6.5 per cent), while the Southern Trust area has the lowest incidence with 5.4%, which is lower than the national average of 6.6 per cent.
The single greatest risk factor for Type 2 diabetes is being overweight or obese. People who are overweight or obese are five times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. In Northern Ireland around three in five adults (62 per cent) are overweight or obese. In addition, a quarter of children aged 2-15 years in Northern Ireland are overweight or obese.
Diabetes UK Northern Ireland is calling for prevention programmes and early intervention for people at high risk of Type 2 diabetes. The charity also underlines the need for an increase in the number of children and adults eating a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet, and the percentage of the population meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines on physical activity by the stated target for 2022, in line with the Fitter Future For All Strategy 2012–2022.
Jillian Patchett, National Director at Diabetes UK Northern Ireland, said: “Unless we act, and urgently, diabetes prevalence will continue to rise. Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are serious conditions that can lead to devastating complications such as amputation, blindness, kidney disease, stroke and heart disease if people don’t receive the right care."
She added: “Type 1 diabetes isn’t currently preventable, but three in five cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed. In order to stop more people developing the condition in the future, we must tackle the obesity epidemic. There is a need to take a whole society approach from childhood, including tackling the marketing of unhealthy food to children and making sure that the food we buy is healthier.
“We also need to make sure that more people who are at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes are identified so that they can get the education, care and support they need to reduce their risk. We need to make effective interventions for people at increased risk widely available.
“Diabetes UK Northern Ireland wants the Department of Health’s Diabetes Strategy to be implemented to improve outcomes for people living with diabetes and prevent more people developing Type 2 diabetes in Northern Ireland.”