Type 2 diabetes cases among the under 40s rising at ‘alarming’ rate

Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert

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UK cases of type 2 diabetes — a condition traditionally associated with older people — are rising at an “alarming” rate among the under 40s, a charity has warned. According to analysis of NHS data from Diabetes UK, the number of registered cases of type 2 diabetes in this age group has increased by 23 percent in the last five years. In fact, the rate of new cases among people under the age of 40 has now exceeded that of those older than 40 — with the charity warning that, under current trends, a whopping 200,000 adults aged 18–39 in the UK could be living with the condition by 2027.

The warning comes as new research commissioned by Diabetes UK and Tesco has revealed that many adults under the age of 40 are largely unaware of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes and the complications that it can lead to if left unchecked.

In fact, the survey found that 68 percent of those polled didn’t know how to check if they were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes and 65 percent were unsure of its symptoms.

Meanwhile, only 35 percent of respondents were aware that the complications of diabetes can include amputation — a figure even lower for stroke (at 30 percent) and depression (26 percent).

In response to these findings, the two organisations have launched a campaign aiming to help at least a million people to better understand their individual risk from type 2 diabetes via either Diabetes UK’s free “Know Your Risk” tool, or by visiting a local Tesco pharmacy.

Metabolic health expert Professor Naveed Sattar of the University of Glasgow — who was not involved in the research — told Express.co.uk: “Type 2 diabetes is the disease most strongly linked to, and caused by, excess weight, particularly in younger people.

“This suggests faster weight gain in younger people, perhaps along with more sedentary behaviour, is responsible for the rise in younger onset type 2 diabetes.

“Another factor may also be more testing for diabetes in clinics and as part of diabetes prevention programmes.

“As type 2 diabetes is much more harmful when it presents earlier in life — and is often linked to more than a decades loss in life expectancy — more work is needed to help prevent, potentially reverse (via weight loss) and manage young onset type 2 diabetes.”

Diabetes UK’s Head of Care, Douglas Twenefour, told Express.co.uk: “Type 2 diabetes is a complex condition with multiple risk factors, such as genetics, family history and ethnicity.

“Obesity is also a key risk factor — and rates of obesity are rising, putting more and more people at risk of type 2 diabetes, including those in younger age groups.

“We’re extremely concerned by these latest figures because they underline how serious health conditions related to obesity are becoming more and more prevalent in a younger demographic.

“They mark a shift from what we’ve seen historically with type 2 diabetes — and show why we’ve been calling on the Government to press ahead with evidence-based policies aimed at improving the health of our nation and addressing the stark health inequalities that exist in parts of the UK.”

According to Diabetes UK, the recent poll also revealed that the current cost-of-living crisis is also having a profound impact on the nation’s health, with 57 percent of respondents reporting that they had depriorisied their health as a result of the economic situation.

Furthermore, 23 percent reported that 23 percent of people had either avoided or postponed recommended medical checks.

Diabetes UK Chief Executive Chris Askew added: “This trend of rapidly-increasing early-onset type 2 diabetes is incredibly troubling.

“It marks a shift from what we’ve seen historically and should be taken as a serious warning to policymakers and our NHS.

“If you’re under 40, you’re not immune to type 2 diabetes. It is vital that you check your risk now and that individuals, no matter what their age or background, are given the opportunity to access support to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes.

“We’re immensely grateful to Tesco for their support with this important campaign and hope it leads to huge numbers of under 40s making that essential first step and checking their risk of type 2 diabetes.”

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Alongside supporting the new diabetes risk tool, the supermarket chain is also publishing a series of healthy and budget-friendly recipes via their Real Food website.

Tesco CEO Jason Tarry said: “Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common health conditions we face in the UK, but the reality is that many cases could be prevented or delayed — and we know that a healthy diet is one of the ways to reduce your risk.

“In these tough times, we want to make it easier for families to enjoy an exciting, healthy, budget-friendly diet, so that even when pressed for time and money, eating healthily never feels out of reach.

“Reducing your risk of type 2 diabetes is doable and affordable, with the right support, and a few simple changes can make a big difference.”

Diabetes UK noted that — while type 2 diabetes is often stigmatised as a condition that people bring on themselves — the risk factors are complex and manifold.

They added: “Social deprivation is also an issue.

“Factors such as income, education, housing, access to healthy food, as well as poorer access to healthcare, have been shown to be strongly linked to an increased risk of developing several health conditions – including obesity and type 2 diabetes.

“As a result, people who are at increased risk of type 2 diabetes are all-too-often less likely to be able to benefit from support to manage it.”

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