More than one in three adults in England are on the verge of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new report published in the British Medical Journal.
The study reveals that over a third of adults have prediabetes (also known as borderline diabetes), putting them at high risk of full-blown type 2 diabetes, and warns of a steep surge in this form of diabetes within the next few years.
Prediabetes is classed as having blood glucose levels at the very high end of the ‘normal’ range, and it is estimated that between 5% and 10% of people with prediabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes each year.
After examining Health Survey for England data between 2003 and 2011, researchers led by Professor Arch Mainous, from the University of Florida, found that the number of diagnosed prediabetes cases trebled during this period – from 11.6 % to 35.3%. They also noted that individuals from lower-income families were found to be at “substantial risk”.
“This rapid rise in such a short period of time is particularly disturbing because it suggests that large changes on a population level can occur in a relatively short period of time,” the authors said.
“If there is no coordinated response to the rise in pre-diabetes, an increase in numbers of people with diabetes will ensue, with consequent increase in health expenditure, morbidity and cardiovascular mortality.”
They added that the findings have important implications on the NHS Health Check programmen, which assesses people’s diabetes risk, and other public health interventions across England.
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, commented: “Unless we make people aware of their risk of Type 2 diabetes and support them in changing their lifestyles, we could see an even greater increase in the number of people with the condition than we are already expecting.”
“A tenth of the NHS budget is already being spent on diabetes and unless we get much better at preventing type 2 diabetes this spending will soon rise to unsustainable levels.”

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