Public health chiefs are urging people to get symptoms of diabetes checked out by their GP, as new official data reveal that almost a million people are not aware they have the condition.
The new data show an estimated 3.8m people have diabetes and around 940,000 are undiagnosed. The majority of cases – 90% – are of type 2 diabetes and could therefore have potentially been prevented.
By 2035 the overall number with diabetes could rise to nearly five million – one in 10 people – if current trends continue, officials said.
PHE called on people to go to the GP if they think they may have the symptoms of diabetes, and to attend for a diabetes risk check as soon as they are invited in.
Professor John Newton, chief knowledge officer at PHE, said: ‘The number of people with diabetes has been steadily increasing and tackling it is fundamental to the sustainable future of the NHS.’
‘Diabetes can be an extremely serious disease for those that have it and treating it and its complications costs the NHS almost £10bn a year. Developing type 2 diabetes is not an inevitable part of ageing, we have an opportunity through public health to reverse this trend and safeguard the health of the nation and the future of the NHS.’
It comes as the ‘Healthier You’ diabetes prevention programme is being expanded across the NHS, with GPs tasked with referring 20,000 at-risk people a year over the next five years for group activities like Zumba and cookery classes to help them increase their physical activity and lose weight.
People access the Healthier You scheme either through the NHS Health Check programme – which invites everyone aged 40-74 for a five-yearly cardiovascular disease risk check up, including a screen for diabetes – or from being identified by their GP as being at risk of diabetes from their existing medical record.