The number of people who are obese in England has almost doubled in the last twenty years from 6.9 to 13 million, according to new analysis released today (14 November) by Diabetes UK.
The figures from the Health Survey for England (1997-2017) estimate that there are now 13 million people over the age of 16 with a BMI of 30 or above which classifies as obese, an increase of more than 6 million since 1997.
In England 29% of adults and 20% of 10 to 11 year olds are living with obesity and, although it’s not the only factor, obesity is the most significant risk factor for new cases of type 2 diabetes, accounting for 80 to 85% of someone’s risk.
It’s the main driver behind the leap in type 2 diabetes cases over the last 20 years. There are an estimated 2.85 million people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in England, and more than 850,000 living with the condition who don’t know they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed − bringing the total number up to 3.7 million.
Obesity is contributing to the increase in gestational diabetes and the worrying rise in young people with type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is serious because it can lead to devastating and life-limiting complications. People with the condition are two and half times more likely to have a heart attack, and four times more likely to experience kidney failure than those without it.
More than half of all cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented or delayed, and in turn the risk of developing the related complications, by tackling overweight and obesity. Diabetes UK is therefore calling for sustained government and industry action on health and obesity.
Phaedra Perry, Diabetes UK South West Regional Head, said:
“Through our new strategy we’re restating our commitment to tackling the diabetes crisis on all fronts.
“We’re facing an urgent public health problem. Tackling this requires ambitious and sustained action from national governments, across sectors and departments. That’s because, right now, it’s hard to be healthy.
“We will keep challenging government and industry to put in place regulations and practices that make healthy choices easier for everyone, including making food and drinks healthier, and addressing the marketing and promotion of unhealthy foods.
“Without action, more people will develop type 2 and gestational diabetes – but with more awareness, government action and the right investment and support, we can change this.”
Reducing the number of people getting type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes is one of five key outcomes in Diabetes UK’s new five-year strategy, which the charity is launching today to mark World Diabetes Day 2019 (14 November).
The ambitious strategy ‘A generation to end the harm’ will focus on achieving five key outcomes by 2025:
- More people with type 1, type 2 and all other forms of diabetes will benefit from new treatments that cure or prevent the condition.
- More people will be in remission from type 2 diabetes.
- More people will get the quality of care they need to manage their diabetes well.
- Fewer people will get type 2 and gestational diabetes.
- More people will live better and more confident lives with diabetes, free from discrimination.
Find out more about World Diabetes Day 2019: www.diabetes.org.uk/get_involved/world-diabetes-day