Published on 23 March 2017

The number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the UK has trebled over the last two decades – according to a new study.

Researchers reported that more than 2.8 million people are now diagnosed with type 2 diabetes – compared to 700,000 known cases 20 years ago.

The study was led by researchers at Cardiff University who compiled figures from GP services in the UK between 1991 and 2014 for the study recently published in Diabetic Medicine.

The report also showed a marked increase in life expectancy for people with the condition, which researchers put down as one of the reasons for why there are so many additional people with type 2 diabetes.

Better diagnosis and rising levels of obesity were also linked with the increased number of people with the condition.

The study found that between 1993 and 2010 the proportion of obese people in the UK rose from 13% to 26% for men and from 16% to 26% for women.

Professor Craig Currie, from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, said: “The number of people with type 2 diabetes in the UK has gone from 700,000 to around 2.8 million over two decades, and it continues to increase.

“We are also seeing increased life expectancy from the condition which could be due to earlier diagnosis of the condition as well as drugs such as blood pressure tablets and statins for blood cholesterol.”

The results of the study also revealed that the chances of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes increased with age, although this increase was lower in people aged 80 years and above. The number of people with type 2 diabetes was also generally higher in men than in women above the age of 40 years. Below the age of 40 it was similar.

Around 4.5 million people live with diabetes in the UK, with more than 90% of those affected having type 2 diabetes. This form of the disease develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly (known as insulin resistance). It is treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity. In addition to this, medication and/or insulin are often required.

Organisations involved in the research included the Institute of Population Medicine, School of Medicine, Cardiff University; Global Epidemiology, Pharmatelligence, Department of Medicine, University Hospital of Wales; and Department of Medicine, Rudolfstiftung Hospital Vienna, Vienna.

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