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Diabetes and obesity rates soar

The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has increased by more than 145,000 in the last year.

New data from GP practices show that there are now more than 2.6 million people with diabetes in the UK and more than 5.2 million registered as obese.

Shockingly, this means that one in ten people are being treated for obesity and one in 20 for diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes often linked to lifestyle factors

Around 90 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes, which is often, but not always, linked to lifestyle factors such as being overweight or obese, leading a sedentary lifestyle and eating an unhealthy diet. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), worldwide 80 per cent of people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese at the time of diagnosis.

Figures "extremely worrying"

“These latest figures are extremely worrying," said Douglas Smallwood, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK

Serious condition

"Diabetes is a serious condition that causes heart disease, stroke, amputations, kidney failure and blindness, and more deaths than breast and prostate cancer combined.

Raising awareness

“Many, but not all, people with Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, therefore we need to do all we can to raise awareness of diabetes and help people understand how following a balanced diet and leading an active lifestyle can help reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Rising tides of obesity and diabetes

“If we don’t stop the rising tides of obesity and diabetes, millions will face a future of ill-health and will put an ever-growing strain on NHS resources.”

Figures by nation for diabetes and obesity

Up to half a million with undiagnosed diabetes

In addition to the 2.6 million people diagnosed with diabetes, there are still up to half a million people who have Type 2 diabetes in the UK and don’t know it.


If left untreated or not managed effectively, diabetes can lead to fatal complications.

Type 2 diabetes can go undetected for ten years or more which means that around half of people already have complications by the time they are diagnosed.

Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes

Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include:

  • having a large waist* or being overweight
  • being of Black or South Asian origin
  • having a family history of the condition
  • being over 40 years old, or over 25 if you’re Black, Asian or from an ethnic minority group.

*At-risk waist measurements are 37 inches or more for men, except those of South Asian origin who are at risk at 35 inches or more, and 31.5 inches or more for all women.

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