Diabetes diagnoses have doubled over the past 15 years according to new research. Here’s what you need to know and how you can discover your risk with the free online Know Your Risk Tool. 

Diabetes is now affecting almost 5 million people in the UK. New analysis from Diabetes UK shows that more than 4.9 million people are currently living with the condition, with 90 per cent of those having type 2. The charity’s new figures show that almost 4.1 million people are now living with a diagnosis and that there are an additional 850,000 have type 2 diabetes who have yet to be diagnosed.   

While cases have doubled over the past 15 years, research consistently shows that, for some people, lifestyle interventions combining improved diet, physical activity and sustained weight loss, can halve the risk. 

Diabetes UK has released this new analysis to mark Type 2 Diabetes Prevention Week (May 10-16, 2021), which is a joint initiative between Diabetes UK, Public Health England and NHS England. This year’s campaign focuses on raising awareness of the risk factors that contribute to developing the condition, and the steps you can take to reduce your risk.  

The new data shows a stark increase in the number of people living with a diabetes diagnosis; an increase of more than 150,000 from 2020. The charity estimates that there are also more than 13.6 million people at increased risk of type 2 in the UK. 

A complex condition

woman with apple and cakes says no to the cakes!

Type 2 diabetes is a complex condition with multiple risk factors. There are things outside an individual’s control that contribute to risk, such as age, family history and ethnicity. People of African-Caribbean, Black African or South Asian descent are two to four times more likely to develop the disease than those from a Caucasian background. 

However, your environment and diet can also increase your risk. Research shows that being obese accounts for 80-85 per cent of someone’s risk of developing the condition. Previous data from Diabetes UK revealed that the number of people living with obesity in England has almost doubled in the past 20 years from 6.9 to 13 million.  

Free diabetes health check tool

By understanding your own personal risk, you can access support to help take steps to reduce your chances of developing type 2. Firstly, head to the free online Know Your Risk toolOnce completed, the tool advises you on your risk and suggests next steps. Those in England who are advised to be at moderate or high risk may then directly sign up to the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP).  

Research and data have also shown that people with diabetes have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, particularly in terms of poorer outcomes when contracting the virus. That’s why preventing or delaying cases of type 2 diabetes is more important than ever before. 

Chris Askew, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, said: The pandemic has shown with devastating clarity how diabetes puts you at increased risk of poorer outcomes when contracting the virus. Yet, we know that with the right support, up to half of type 2 diabetes cases − and the accompanying risk of developing life threatening complications − can be delayed or prevented. 

“This Diabetes Prevention Week, we want to help people understand their personal risk of type 2 diabetes and the first step is to complete our free Know Your Risk Tool, today. It takes just five minutes you have the power to access information and support that could change your health for the better.” 

Find out more about the risk factors of type 2 diabetes and what you can do to reduce your risk 

Also read more about how sugar affects different parts of your your body especially in those with type 2 diabetes