More than a million Brits unaware they have diabetes

Caroline Cassidy

New research from Diabetes UK has revealed that there are around 1.1 million people living with diabetes in the UK without even being aware that they suffer from the condition.

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Type 2 diabetes, which is associated with obesity, has in particular increased throughout Britain. The number of reported cases has soared exponentially with national obesity levels and has been described as "truly alarming".

The disease and the various complications that arise from it could cripple the NHS in the future as the research suggested that by 2030 there could be as many as 5.5 million diabetes sufferers in the UK.

Diabetics can also be at risk of even more serious conditions such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, leg amputation and blindness.

Type 2 diabetes can be dealt with if diagnosed before other complications arise and can often be prevented through healthy lifestyle changes.

Douglas Smallwood, CEO of Diabetes UK, said: "Avoidable in so many cases, the type 2 diabetes epidemic is a clear example of where the new government's rhetoric of tackling health problems through prevention must be turned into action.

"Failure to act now means a bleak future of spiralling NHS costs and worsening public health.

He added: "While screening of at-risk groups has started, notably through the NHS Health Checks programme, it is clear there needs to be greater emphasis on successful delivery throughout the country."

However, being overweight is not the only factor in developing diabetes. Those with close relatives who suffer from the condition may also be at risk and should get themselves tested.

With type 2 diabetes, the sufferers body does not process insulin properly and a build up of insulin in the blood can lead to heart disease.

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said: "The increase in diabetes is extremely worrying.

"The Coalition Government has already signalled that public health is a priority.

"We must help people to tackle the causes of type 2 diabetes through dietary and lifestyle changes.

"Everyone should ensure they are aware of the symptoms of diabetes, which include thirst, tiredness, unexplained weight loss, passing urine frequently, blurred vision and frequent infection.

"If you or your child have any of these symptoms you must act immediately and contact your GP for a diabetes test. Delay may be dangerous, especially in children.

"Primary care trusts are also running risk-assessment programmes to identify and help people at high risk of diabetes."

Do you suffer from diabetes and have any advice for people who may think they do too? Leave a comment and share your experiences.