NHS identifies over half a million more people at risk of type 2 diabetes

Over half a million (549,000) more people in England have been identified by the NHS as being at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in a year, NHS figures show.

The latest National Diabetes Audit shows that 3,615,330 people registered with a GP were found to have non-diabetic hyperglycaemia (also known as pre-diabetes) in 2023, compared to 3,065,825 in 2022 – an increase of almost a fifth (18%).

In people under the age of 40, there has been an increase of almost a quarter in the same period – from 173,166 in 2022 to 216,440 in 2023. Identifying more people means that the NHS can provide an earlier diagnosis and support to prevent progression of the condition.

People with non-diabetic hyperglycaemia have blood sugar levels that are above the normal range, so are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The condition is typically picked up when someone has a blood test at their GP surgery.

The NHS has rolled out a range of innovative services to prevent people from developing type 2 diabetes and to reduce obesity rates, including the world-leading Healthier You NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.

Over 1.6 million people have been offered support through the nine-month programme, which provides personalised support with practical tools and advice on healthy eating and lifestyle, increasing physical activity and weight management.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said: “These figures are concerning but they show exactly why the NHS is taking radical action to stem the tide of rising levels of obesity and type 2 diabetes – through our world first prevention programme and our soup and shakes diets.

“Type 2 diabetes is a growing problem for patients and not only is it linked to kidney failure, amputation, heart attack, stroke and many of the common types of cancer, it also adds pressure to NHS services.

“Doing nothing is not an option for the NHS, so we will continue to develop services that support people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes to lead healthier lives. If you are worried about developing the condition, please do come forward and get the help you need.”

Around nine out of 10 people in England living with diabetes have type 2. The risk factors of type 2 diabetes are multiple and complex, including family history and ethnicity, as well as living with overweight or obesity.

Health chiefs are investing £14.5 million to support up to 140,000 people aged 18 to 39 years old to receive additional tailored health checks from healthcare staff, and support with diabetes management, such as blood sugar level control, weight management and cardiovascular risk minimisation.

Under the programme, named ‘T2Day: Type 2 Diabetes and the Young’, people with diabetes benefit from extra one-to-one reviews as well as the option of new medicines and treatments where indicated, to help better manage their diabetes.

Dr Clare Hambling, National Clinical Director of Diabetes and Obesity at NHS England said: “Type 2 diabetes in people under 40 is a growing problem globally – England is no exception, meaning there is an ever-increasing challenge for the NHS – which is why we developed this world-first targeted support for these high-risk people living with diabetes.

“Now entering its second year, the NHS England-funded Type 2 Diabetes and the Young (T2DAY) initiative supports additional clinical reviews for those aged 18 to 39 years old living with type 2 diabetes. The initiative helps to ensure that people living with early onset type 2 diabetes receive all recommended diabetes health checks, tailored support according to their individual needs, and evidence-based management to stay well and avoid complications.”

Over 10,000 more people living with type 2 diabetes and excess weight or obesity in England will be able to access the NHS Type 2 Diabetes Path to Remission Programme this year to help them lose weight and significantly improve their health.

Under a new expansion plan, the programme is now available nationally to benefit people living with type 2 diabetes across the whole of England, doubling its capacity this year.

Over 23,000 people have already been offered the programme since it was first piloted by NHS England in 2020 as part of its Long Term Plan.

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