Over the last 10 years, the number of people with diabetes has risen by nearly 60% in the UK. A leading charity has warned that this is a rate threatening to "bankrupt the NHS".
The number of people suffering from the condition has increased from 2.1 million in 2005 to 3.3 million this year, Diabetes UK said. "The costs of treating diabetes will continue to spiral out of control and threaten to bankrupt the NHS. Now is the time for action," the charity has said.
In the UK, 9 out of 10 cases are said to be type 2 diabetes, a condition which tends to develop later in life and linked to diet and obesity. Type 1 diabetes often appears in childhood, is a condition in which the pancreas does not produce any insulin.
Severe complications such as blindness, organ damage and nerve damage can occur due to inability to control blood sugar levels, making it "massive drain" on NHS resources. The reason for the soaring cases of type 2 diabetes is being placed "squarely on the nation's ballooning waistline".
With an average of 135 people undergoing diabetes-related amputations each week, an all-time record was reached last month. Medication for diabetes accounts for 10% of the NHS drugs bill, with £869m spent on drugs such as insulin and metformin.
Barbara Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, says "80% of this is spent on managing 'avoidable' complications." She said "There is huge potential to save money and reduce pressure on NHS hospitals and services through providing better care to prevent people with diabetes from developing devastating and costly complications."
Dr Martin McShane, NHS England's director for long-term conditions, described the figures as a "stark warning" and highlighted the increasing cost of diabetes. "We've said it before and we'll say it again, it's time to get serious about lifestyle change," he added.