Experts Warn Of 'Public Health Emergency' As Diabetes Diagnosis Rate Hits 3 Million

A record three million people have been diagnosed with diabetes in Britain, according to research.

The figure - equivalent to 4.6% of the UK population - is growing and experts warned it was a "grim staging post towards a public health emergency".

Researchers for Diabetes UK and Tesco found 132,000 people were diagnosed with the disease over the last year and a further 850,000 people are thought to have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.

Unless more is done to prevent the condition and help those who have it, experts fear the increase could see the NHS burdened with unsustainable costs, with huge implications for public health.

Every year 24,000 people with diabetes die earlier than expected in England and Wales, a situation that is expected to get even worse without urgent action.

Tesco and Diabetes UK have launched a partnership that will see the supermarket aim to raise £10 million for the charity to tackle the disease and help people affected by it.

The partnership will also fund the biggest ever public awareness campaign on Type 2 diabetes risk factors, aiming to reach the estimated seven million people at high risk.

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: "We are hugely concerned that the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has reached three million for the first time and there is no reason to think this will mark the end of what has been a rapid rise in the condition.

"Instead, all the projections suggest that the three million figure will be a grim staging post on the road towards a public health emergency and this unfolding tragedy is already putting huge pressure on the NHS and will have potentially devastating consequences for those people who develop the condition. But this is not inevitable.

"By identifying those at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, we can ensure they start getting support to make the kind of lifestyle changes that can help prevent it. And by making sure people who have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes are already getting the care and support they need, we can help them avoid the devastating complications diabetes can cause.

"I'm delighted Tesco has made Diabetes UK its National Charity Partner, as this will make a real difference in curbing the rise in the condition. Not only will the partnership fund the biggest ever public health campaign on risk factors and symptoms of Type 2 diabetes, but, crucially, it will be funding pioneering research into a vaccine for Type 1 diabetes."

Rebecca Shelley, Group Corporate Affairs Director at Tesco, said: "Diabetes affects millions of families and communities across the UK and as today's news confirms, the number of people with this condition is increasing.

"Thanks to this important partnership, we have the opportunity to inspire our colleagues and customers to come together, raise awareness and much needed funds to help the millions of people with diabetes in the UK.

"From helping our customers take action to reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes through our network of pharmacies, to investing in groundbreaking research, we'll be using our scale to support everyone affected by, and at risk of diabetes."

Funds raised by the partnership will help to pay for pioneering research into a vaccine for Type 1 diabetes, offering real hope for thousands of children and adults across the globe for a future without this type of the condition.

The partnership will also fund the biggest ever public awareness campaign on Type 2 diabetes risk factors, aiming to reach the estimated seven million people at high risk.

Through risk assessments available to customers in pharmacies, the partnership will help to identify some of the 850,000 people who have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.

The partnership aims to provide information and advice to almost a million people with Type 2 diabetes and will also fund a series of "Living with Diabetes" days around the UK that will help people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes understand how to best manage their condition.