NHS diabetes treatment costs rise as obesity levels soar

Caroline Cassidy

Britain's obesity epidemic is now beginning to take its toll - new figures have revealed that the NHS now spends 8.4 per cent of its entire medicines bill treating diabetes.

NHS diabetes treatment cost
NHS diabetes treatment cost

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In 2005/06 the NHS spent £513 million a year on diabetes medications but in 2010/11 that figure reached £725 million, a rise of 41 per cent.

According to data from the NHS Information Centre, one in every 25 prescription medicines dispensed is for the treatment of diabetes, a total of 38.3 million items.

And much of the increase can be attributed to Type 2 diabetes, a disease linked to obesity.

Some 2.5 million Brits currently suffer with the disease but an estimated 850,000 are thought to be as yet undiagnosed.

Approximately 25 per cent of adults in the UK are now obese but experts predict that 50 per cent could be dangerously overweight by the year 2050.

Tim Straughan, chief executive of the NHS Information Centre, told the Daily Mail: "Today's report paints a picture of an ever increasing drugs bill to cope with the demands of society triggered by diabetes.

"This information will help people and health professionals see the impact that caring for diabetes has on NHS prescribing; and support the NHS in planning for how to best address the condition moving forward."

Though the exact cause of Type 2 diabetes is not known, the NHS advises that being overweight or obese increases your risk of developing the disease.

In particular those with fat around the abdomen, which releases chemicals that can upset the cardiovascular and metabolic systems in the body, are at a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease and stroke.

A number of other factors are also thought to increase the risk - those of South Asian, African-Caribbean or Middle Eastern descent are more likely to develop the disease, while those over 40 and anyone with a close relative who has diabetes are at greater risk.

What do you think - is Britain's obesity epidemic putting pressure on the NHS? Leave a comment below...