Diabetes jump blamed on unhealthy British lifestyles

LONDON - New cases of diabetes are soaring in Britain, with medical experts linking the rise to higher obesity rates caused by unhealthy diets and lack of exercise.

By (Reuters)

Published: Tue 24 Feb 2009, 4:24 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:38 AM

The findings suggest that diabetes in Britain is increasing faster than in the United States, where prevalence of the disease is one of the highest in the world.

The number of people newly diagnosed with diabetes jumped 74 percent between 1997 and 2003, according to research published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The overall incidence of diabetes increased from 2.8 percent of the population in 1996 to 4.3 percent in 2005.

This equates to an annual rise of just under 5 percent and a 54 percent increase over the decade, the research led by experts from Spain and Sweden found.

The bulk of the fresh cases are type 2 diabetes -- which is linked to overweight or obese people, the journal reported.

"Our results suggest that, although the incidence of diabetes remains lower in the UK than in the USA or Canada, it appears to be increasing at a faster pace," the researchers said.

Campaigners called for Britons to take more exercise and shed excess weight to deal with a problem that is putting an increasing financial strain on the state-funded health service.

"This research is a sad indictment of the current state of the UK's health. Sadly, the statistics are not surprising as we know that the soaring rates of type 2 diabetes are strongly linked to the country's expanding waistline," said Douglas Smallwood, chief executive of Diabetes UK.

"It is imperative that we raise awareness of the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet and doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day if we want to make any headway in defusing the diabetes time bomb."

All the data refer to people between the ages of 10 and 79. The prevalence of the disease was 29 percent higher among men than among women.

Of more than 42,642 people who were newly diagnosed with the disease between 1996 and 2005, just over 1,256 had "insulin-dependent" Type 1 diabetes and 41,386 had Type 2 which is linked to lifestyle.

More news from Health and Fitness