Health consultants have warned that 1 in 10 adults in the UK will be at risk of developing diabetes by 2035. For the first time, Public Health England (PHE) forecasts the number of people with the disease could top five million if obesity rates continue to increase.
The PHE analysis included type one, which is an auto-immune disease and accounts for about 10% of cases in the UK. But the remaining 90% have type 2, which can be affected by where you come from and your family history, but in most cases is associated with being overweight.
In 2015, there were around 3.8 million people living with diabetes in England alone. If obesity rates remain stable, Public Health England predicts that by 2035 that figure could have leapt to 4.9 million. But if obesity rates increase by 3% every five years, an extra 263,000 people will have developed diabetes by 2035, putting the overall figure at more than five million.
This forecast comes in the same week as a Swedish study that found people consuming a diet drink can be almost as bad as other fizzy drinks – and despite being sugar-free it does not stop the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.
More than 2,800 adults took part in the Swedish study and kept a year-long diary about what they drank every day.
Scientists suspect the artificial sweetener in the drinks can actually make people feel hungrier and reach for sugary food.
People who drank two or more sweetened drinks a day – whether sugary or artificially sweetened – were 2.4 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. The researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found for every 200ml of sugary fizzy drink drunk each day, the diabetes risk increased by 21 per cent. The same amount of diet drink consumed every day increased the risk by 18 per cent.