Public Health England (PHE) has warned that treating diabetes is “fundamental to the sustainable future of the NHS”.
There are 3.8 million adults in England with diabetes, and it is estimated that one in four people with diabetes, an estimated 940,000, are unaware they have the condition.
Type 2 diabetes accounts for around 90 per cent of these cases, which shares a significant link with obesity.
Earlier this year, PHE launched The Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP) alongside Diabetes UK and the NHS to tackle the diabetes epidemic in the UK.
The programme will help those at high risk of type 2 diabetes reduce their risk of developing the condition. Participants are instructed to eat an improved diet that can enable weight loss as well as increase their physical activity.
PHE hopes that this program can serve to lessen the effect diabetes has on the NHS: treating diabetes and complications linked to the condition, such as kidney disease and heart attacks, costs the NHS around £10 billion a year.
John Newto, chief knowledge officer at PHE, said: “The number of people with diabetes has been steadily increasing and tackling it is fundamental to the sustainable future of the NHS.
“Diabetes can be an extremely serious disease for those that have it and treating it and its complications costs the NHS almost £10bn a year.
“Developing type 2 diabetes is not an inevitable part of ageing. We have an opportunity through public health to reverse this trend and safeguard the health of the nation and the future of the NHS.”
The proportion of people who have diabetes increases with age, as nine per cent of people aged 45 to 54 have diabetes, but for over 75s it is 23.8 per cent.
Jenifer Smith, who is the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme director, said: “Whilst the extent of the problem is greater than ever, the good news is that type 2 diabetes is largely preventable.
“Our prevention programme puts people in control of their health by giving them the tools and information they need to make small changes to their lifestyles to significantly reduce their risk of the disease and the potential complications associated with it like stroke and kidney failure.”

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