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Three million people in the UK now have diabetes

The number of people in the UK who have been diagnosed with diabetes has reached three million for the first time, equivalent to 4.6% of the population.

The figure represents an increase of 132,000 people diagnosed with diabetes over the last year, according to a new analysis carried out by Diabetes UK and Tesco. A further 850,000 people are thought to have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes (T2D). 

Barbara Young, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “We are hugely concerned that the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has reached three million for the first time. There is no reason to think this will mark the end of what has been a rapid rise in the condition. Instead, all the projections suggest that the three million figure will be a grim staging post on the road towards a public health emergency. 

“By identifying those at high risk of developing T2D, we can ensure they start getting support to make the kind of lifestyle changes that can help prevent it. And by making sure people who have diabetes are already getting the care and support they need, we can help them avoid devastating complications.”

Tesco and Diabetes UK announced the new figures to mark the launch of a major new national partnership that will see the supermarket, its customers, colleagues and suppliers aim to raise £10 million, the biggest donation ever pledged to the charity. The partnership will also fund the biggest-ever public awareness campaign on T2D risk factors, aiming to reach the estimated seven million people at high risk.

Rebecca Shelley, Group Corporate Affairs Director at Tesco, said: “Thanks to this important partnership, we have the opportunity to inspire our colleagues and customers to come together and raise awareness and much needed funds to help the millions of people with diabetes in the UK. From helping our customers take action to reduce their risk of T2D through our network of pharmacies, to investing in groundbreaking research, we’ll be using our scale to support everyone affected by, and at risk of diabetes.”

The partnership will help fund:

  • Research into a T1D vaccine.
  • The biggest ever public awareness campaign on T2D risk factors aiming to reach the estimated seven million people at high risk.
  • Risk assessments – these will available to customers in Tesco pharmacies, and the company hopes this will help to identify some of those with undiagnosed T2D.
  • Provision of information and advice to almost a million people with T2D
  • A series of Living with Diabetes Days around the UK that will help people newly diagnosed with T2D.
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