Since 1996, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has risen from 1.4 million to 3.9 million.

Taking into account the number of people likely to be living with undiagnosed diabetes, the number of people living with diabetes in the UK is over 4.8 million

Diabetes prevalence in the UK is estimated to rise to 5.3 million by 2025.

Type 2 diabetes in particular has been growing at the particularly high rate and is now one of the world’s most common long term health conditions.

UK diabetes prevalence

Currently, the number of people with diabetes in the UK is estimated to be 4.8 million [16]

It is predicted that up to 1,000,000 people in the UK have diabetes that is yet to be diagnosed. This means that, including the number of undiagnosed people, there is estimated to be over 4.8 million people living with diabetes in the UK at present.

This represents 6% of the UK population or 1 in every 16 people having diabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed).

The prevalence of diabetes in the UK (for adults) is broken down as follows:

How many people have diabetes in the UK [2019]
Country Number of People
England 3,319,266
Northern Ireland 99,833
Scotland 301,523
Wales 198,883

The majority of these cases are of type 2 diabetes, which has been linked to increasing cases of obesity

Statistics suggest that a slightly higher proportion of adult men have diabetes. Men account for 56 per cent of UK adults with diabetes and women account for 44 per cent.

World diabetes prevalence

It is estimated that 415 million people are living with diabetes in the world, which is estimated to be 1 in 11 of the world’s adult population. 46% of people with diabetes are undiagnosed.

The figure is expected to rise to 642 million people living with diabetes worldwide by 2040.

Prevalence across diabetes types

Type 2 diabetes is, by far, the most prevalent form of diabetes.

In the UK, type 2 diabetes accounts for about 90% of all diabetes cases and type 1 diabetes accounts for approximately 10%.

The IDF reports that the proportion of people with type 2 diabetes is on the rise in most countries.

Whilst type 1 diabetes is less common, overall, than type 2 diabetes, the vast majority of children with diabetes will have type 1.

In 2015, more than 542,000 children in the world were living with type 1 diabetes.

Countries with high diabetes prevalence

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) currently states that the top 5 countries with the highest amount of people with diabetes are as follows:

  • China: 109 million
  • India: 69 million
  • USA: 29 million
  • Brazil: 14 million
  • Russian Federation: 12 million

The countries with the highest proportion of population living with diabetes are as follows:

  • Tokelau: 29.7%
  • Mauritius: 24.3%
  • Nauru: 23.8%
  • Cook Islands: 21.1%
  • Marshall Islands: 21.1%

All of the top 10 nations are small islands.

In terms of non-islands, the nation with the highest diabetes prevalence is Saudi Arabia with a 17.6% prevalence. The IDF notes that three quarters of the world’s adult population are living in low and middle-income countries.

Prevalence of diabetes and ethnicity

Ethnicity has a big role as diabetes is five times as likely to develop in Pakistani women, two and a half times as likely in Indian women and diabetes is four times more prevalent in Bangladeshi and Indian people as a whole.

Generally speaking diabetes prevalence is often six times higher for people of South Asian origin and three times higher for those of African origin.

It is unsure why this is the case however a many number of risk factors could be the reason. Poor economy and lifestyle are noted to lead to unhealthy dietary patterns, which is a possible cause with genetics being another potential factor.

What is the risk of developing diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes can appear at any time in someone’s life after the destruction of pancreas cells, which produce insulin. It isn’t clear why they have been damaged but may be triggered by an infection.

Type 2 diabetes usually appears in adults however is frequently being diagnosed in younger overweight people and certain ethnic groups. The risk of its development can be reduced by a change in lifestyle.

The risk of developing type 2 diabetes through family genes is much higher than for type 1 diabetes.

Life expectancy

Diabetes is currently the fifth most common reason for death in the world.

Around 1 in 8 people between 20 and 79 years old have their death attributed to diabetes and it is expected to rise.

The life expectancy on average now is reduced by: [5]

  • More than 20 years for people with Type 1 diabetes
  • Up to 10 years for people with Type 2 diabetes

However, these figures are based on historical data, and with improvements in modern care taking place, the figures presented could be subject to change in the coming decades.

The cost of increased diabetes prevalence

It is currently estimated that around 10% of the NHS yearly budget is contributed to the treatment of diabetes This equates to nine billion a year or rather, £173 million a week.

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