People with type 2 diabetes are 50 percent more likely to die early than those without the condition, Diabetes UK has warned. The condition is very common in the UK. Around 3.9 million people over the age of 16 have a diabetes diagnoses, 90 percent of whom have type 2 diabetes. This is an increase of more than 100,000 people from 2017-18.
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The diabetes charity estimates almost a million more people have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.
By 2025, the overall number of people with diabetes is expected to surpass five million, Diabetes UK added.
Heart disease is a common complication of diabetes, that can lead to early death.
People with type 2 diabetes are up to two and a half times more likely to experience heart failure, and twice as likely to have a heart attack, compared with those without the condition, according to data from the National Diabetes Audit.
Being overweight is the greatest risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, while age, family history and ethnicity can also play a part.
Obesity in England has almost doubled in the last 20 years from 6.9 to 13 million, but Diabetes UK said government action to tackle this “appears to have stalled”.
The charity is calling on the Government to honour its manifesto commitment to tackle childhood obesity, and for the Government and NHS England to continue their efforts to produce better care to prevent complications.
Chris Askew, Diabetes UK chief executive, said: “Type 2 diabetes is an urgent public health crisis, and solving it depends on decisive action that’s led by government, supported by industry and delivered across our society.
“More than half of all cases of type 2 diabetes and the accompanying risk of developing devastating complications could be prevented or delayed by supporting people to make healthier choices.
“This includes mandating industry to make food and drinks healthier and addressing the marketing and promotion of unhealthy foods.”
NHS national clinical director for obesity and diabetes, Professor Jonathan Valabhji, said: “While diabetes is a dangerous public health threat that can shorten people’s lives, as well as costing the NHS billions every year, thanks to better NHS treatment, the outlook for people with both type 1 and type 2 diabetes has improved considerably over the last 20 years.
“As part of the NHS long term plan we are also now delivering the world’s largest type 2 diabetes prevention programme in order to prevent people from developing type 2 diabetes in the first place.”
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A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “Obesity can have serious consequences for anyone’s health.
“Our goal is to halve childhood obesity rates by 2030 and prioritise prevention so it is easier for families to make healthier choices to live longer and healthier lives.
“Already our robust action has decreased the sugar content in soft drinks by almost a third and we’ve invested millions promoting physical activity in schools.
“We are working with councils to tackle child obesity locally through ground-breaking new programmes.”
How to prevent type 2 diabetes
A healthy diet and keeping active can help manage blood sugar levels, according to the NHS.
When it comes to diet, the health body states: “There’s nothing you cannot eat if you have type 2 diabetes, but you’ll have to limit certain foods.
“You should eat a wide range of foods – including fruit, vegetables and some starchy foods like pasta, keep sugar, fat and salt to a minimum, and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner every day – do not skip meals.”
When it comes to exercise it says: “Physical exercise helps lower your blood sugar level. You should aim for 2.5 hours of activity a week.
“You can be active anywhere as long as what you’re doing gets you out of breath. This could be fast walking, climbing stairs, and doing more strenuous housework or gardening.”
Losing weight if you’re overweight can also make it easier for the body to lower blood sugar.
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