UK’s soaring diabetes cases are a ‘public health emergency’

diabetesMany of us may already be aware of the obesity epidemic that is rife not only in the United Kingdom but over in the U.S. too. However, closely linked to this issue is an increasing problem of diabetes which in itself seems to be an epidemic of its own.

According to new research, a staggering three million people have been diagnosed with diabetes in Britain – equating to 4.6% of the population.

Researchers for Diabetes UK and Tesco have discovered that around 132,000 people were diagnosed with the disease over the previous year and an estimated 850,000 people are believed to have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.

There are roughly 24,000 premature deaths each year in England and Wales because of diabetes and without rapid intervention, this death toll will continue to rise. Therefore, supermarket giant Tesco and the charity Diabetes UK have begun a partnership to try and improve the situation. Tesco hope to raise £10 million for the charity to tackle the disease and provide help to those who suffer with it.

In the UK alone, approximately 90% of all adults with diabetes have the Type 2 variation and the partnership will provide funds to launch the biggest ever public awareness campaign focusing on the risk factors for Type 2 diabetes, aimed at the seven million people deemed ‘high risk’ of developing the disease.

In addition to the massive public awareness campaign, the money raised will also be used to develop a new vaccine for Type 1 diabetes as well as helping to identify those 850,000 people who are living with undiagnosed diabetes.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, warns the situation is a ‘grim staging post towards a public health emergency’.

She says: “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.”

Rebecca Shelley, group corporate affairs director at Tesco, added: “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.”

Type 1 diabetes is when the body does not produce insulin and as such is often referred to as ‘insulin-dependent diabetes’. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease not attributed to any lifestyle factor. With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas (a small gland behind the stomach) will not produce any insulin (a hormone that regulates blood glucose levels) and anyone who has this kind of diabetes will be required to have injections for life in addition to strictly controlled diet. Diabetes UK state that 10% of all diabetes cases in the UK are Type 1 – usually beginning in childhood or young adulthood.

Type 2 diabetes is far more common than Type 1 and it occurs when the body is not generating enough insulin, or the body’s cells do not properly respond to it (or both). This is referred to as insulin resistance. It mainly affects adults over 40 years of age but in recent years it has become prominent in younger, overweight people. Type 2 diabetes is primarily caused by obesity, consuming too much sugar and leading a sedentary lifestyle. In fact, around 85% of cases of Type 2 diabetes occur in people who are obese and in the UK, about 90% of all adults who suffer with diabetes have Type 2.

Although each can have its own particular symptoms, there are some symptoms that are common for both types of diabetes. These include:

. Feeling very tired.

. Feeling very thirsty.

. Having to urinate often, particularly at night.

. Unexplained weight loss and loss of muscle bulk.

The symptoms of the most common kind of diabetes – Type 2 – can be mild and thus people can go for years without realising they have the disease or receiving a formal diagnosis. If you suspect you have diabetes you must see your doctor as soon as possible as an early diagnosis can decrease the chances of developing more serious problems at a later stage.

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