The number of people in Britain affected by diabetes mellitus is expected to grow by some 700,000 over the next eight years due to soaring obesity rates, a leading health group has warned.
Diabetes UK said it expects the combined diabetic population of England, Scotland and Wales to rise from around 3.7 million to 4.4 million by 2020, with type 2 diabetes – linked to unhealthy lifestyle – accounting for the vast majority of new cases.
The charity said such an increase will put even more strain on NHS finances and warned that it could even bankrupt the health service .
Chief executive Barbara Young said: “The healthcare system is already at breaking point in terms of its ability to provide care for people with diabetes and the result is that many people are developing health complications that could have been avoided and are dying early as a result.”
“We face the very real prospect of the rise in the number of people with the condition combining with NHS budget pressures to create a perfect storm that threatens to bankrupt the NHS .”
“The Government and the NHS do not seem to have grasped the scale of the impending crisis and at the moment we seem to be sleepwalking towards it. But the crucial point is that it is still not too late to take the action needed to avert it.”
Diabetes UK said a Government-funded public health campaign is needed to increase awareness of how serious type 2 diabetes can be and what the risk factors are so that those at high risk can be identified and given the right support to help prevent the disease.
“We still hear about people who think diabetes is a relatively mild condition and do not realise it can lead to devastating complications such as blindness, amputation and stroke,” Young added.

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