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One in three UK adults have ‘pre-diabetes’, research reveals



More than one in three adults are “on the cusp” of developing type two diabetes, new research has revealed, emphasising the need to curb the ongoing trend.

In a study published in the British Medical Journal, scientists warn of a steep surge in diabetes among adults, as increasing numbers suffer from high levels of blood glucose.

People diagnosed with pre-diabetes, or borderline diabetes, are at severely high risk of developing type two diabetes and its associated complications.

Pre-diabetes is classified as a glycated haemoglobin – a measure of blood glucose control of between 5.7% and 6.4%. Diabetes is usually classified as a glycated haemoglobin of 6.5%.

The authors of the study examined accumulated data from Health Survey for England, focusing on the years 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2011.

They found that in 2011, the number of people diagnosed with pre-diabetes tripled from 11.6% in 2003 to 35.3%.

The paper has also noted that people from lower income families, black or from a minority ethnicity were at “substantial risk” of developing pre-diabetes – a contributing factor towards the “extremely rapid rise”.

The authors of the paper said, “This rapid rise in such a short period of time is particularly disturbing because it suggests that large changes on a population level can occur in a relatively short period of time.

“If there is no co-ordinated response to the rise in pre-diabetes, an increase in numbers of people with diabetes will ensue, with consequent increase in health expenditure, morbidity and cardiovascular mortality.

“In the absence of concerted and effective efforts to reduce risk, the number of people with diabetes is likely to rise steeply in coming years.”

This raises important issues regarding the effectiveness of the NHS Health Check and other public health intervention schemes across England.

Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, told the Independent, “A tenth of the NHS budget is already being spent on diabetes and unless we get much better at preventing type 2 diabetes this spending will soon rise to unsustainable levels.”

Global obesity rates are also at a record high, as a recent report suggested that 2.1 billion people are now overweight or obese, shining a light on diets in both the developing world and developed.

Photo: rotorhead via Freeimages 

Further reading:

Global obesity epidemic: report says 21bn people now overweight or obese

UK obesity worst case scenario might be underestimating problem

Eat seven a day, not five: scientists call for increased fruit and veg intake

Study shows too much salt speeds up ageing process in overweight teens 

Today’s children 15% less fit than 30 years ago