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Diabetes cases rise in the under 40s who also show ‘worse metabolic profile’

The number of under 40s being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes has risen substantially over the past two decades and they appear to have a more ‘aggressive’ pattern of disease, research shows.

One in eight newly diagnosed patients is now in the 18-40-year age group compared with one in ten in 2000, the researchers told delegates at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes annual conference in Barcelona.

A study of 370,854 patients diagnosed with the condition between 2000 and 2017 also found the younger group was more likely to be overweight and have factors that put them at high cardiovascular risk.

The number of patients aged 41-50 year diagnosed with type 2 diabetes also increased over the 17 years looked at in the study.

But the youngest group had significantly higher average BMI at 35 compared with those in older groups and had higher levels of LDL cholesterol and blood glucose scores with 58% having HbA1c greater than 7.5%.

In the 60-69 age group with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes only 57% were obese and 38% had a HbA1c score of over 7.5%.

A third of the 18-40 year olds had high blood pressure and 23% were identified as having high cardiovascular risk despite no history of atherosclerotic disease, the researchers reported.

The researchers concluded: ‘While cardiovascular morbidity and mortality risks have declined substantially over the years for older people with type 2 diabetes, they remain unchanged for younger people.

‘Young-onset diabetes has a more aggressive phenotype compared to older-onset diabetes. More intense strategies are required to improve longer term cardiovascular and mortality outcomes in this population.’

A second study presented at the same conference calculated that poor diabetes control was responsible for £3 billion in potentially avoidable hospital treatment in England in 2017/18.

Comparing data on hospital care for those with and without diabetes showed of total hospital costs of £36 billion, £5.5 billion was spent on hospital care for people with diabetes, an estimated £3 billion of which was excess expenditure on diabetes - equating to almost 10% of the NHS hospital budget.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • David Banner

    The Mcdonaldisation of UK youth is destroying the NHS. We need a tax cut on healthy foods and a tax hike on unhealthy ones.

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