One in ten middle aged adults in Ireland could have diabetes by 2020, according to researchers who warn that the country is “currently in the grip of a global epidemic of obesity and type 2 diabetes”.
A survey conducted by the Institute of Public Health (IPH) and University College Cork (UCC) suggests that the number of people aged 45 and over with both diagnosed and undiagnosed diabetes will rise to more than 175,000 (9.1 per cent of the population) within the next eight years.
It also predicts that the number over-18s diagnosed with diabetes will soar by nearly 30 per cent to 136,000 (3.8 per cent of the population) by 2020.
Furthermore, the research found that an alarming 30 per cent of over-45s have diabetes but are unaware of their condition as it remains undiagnosed.
Senior research analysts Lorraine Fahy, of the IPH, and Prof Ivan Perry, from the HRB Centre for Diet and Health Research at UCC, said the findings merely confirm that Ireland is currently in the grip of a diabetes epidemic.
“Ireland is clearly not immune from this phenomenon which has the potential to overwhelm health services over the next decade,” Prof Perry said.
“Most people now understand the causes of obesity and diabetes. Unfortunately knowledge alone does not change behaviour.”
He added that the country needs to re-think its approach to diabetes prevention and backed current government proposals for increased taxation on sugar-sweetened soft drinks.
Ms Fahy added: “The fact that a large number of adults are living with diabetes and that this number is expected to increase has significant implications for the individuals involved, their families as well as the health and social care system and Ireland’s economy.”

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