New analysis released today by Diabetes UK Cymru shows that the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in Wales has increased from 191,590 to 194,693 since last year. This is a prevalence of 7.4%, the highest in the UK. The UK average is 6.8%.
Across the UK one in ten people over 40 is now living with a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. The new figures show that there are 3.8 million people living with a diagnosis of diabetes in the UK, and 90 per cent of those with Type 2.
There are also over 61,000 people in Wales living with Type 2 diabetes, who don’t know they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed. This brings the total number living with diabetes in Wales up to more than a quarter of a million (255,781). By 2030 it is predicted this number will rise to more than 311,000.
The dramatic increase in obesity rates is the main driver behind so many more people living with Type 2 diabetes. Public Health Wales states that around 60 per cent of adults in Wales are overweight or obese.
While not every case of Type 2 diabetes is caused by excessive weight, it is the single greatest risk factor for developing the condition. Age, family history, and ethnicity can also contribute to someone’s risk, with people of African-Caribbean, Black African, or South Asian descent two to four times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than white people. Many cases of Type 2 diabetes could be prevented or delayed by healthy eating, being more active, and losing weight if overweight.
The symptoms, which involve going to the toilet a lot, being really thirsty, feeling more tired than usual and losing weight without trying, can be easy to miss especially in the early stages. The condition can go undetected for many years, and by the time they’re diagnosed one in three people already have complications with their eyes, feet, kidneys or nerves.
With over half a million (588,490) people in Wales at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, Diabetes UK Cymru wants to raise awareness of the risk factors so that people can take steps to look after their health and prevent or delay the onset of the condition and its serious complications.
Diabetes UK Cymru is recommending that everyone uses the free Know Your Risk online tool to find out their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Jacqueline Passmore, 55, from Risca, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2008.
Jacqueline said, “Nobody in my family has diabetes and I hadn’t noticed any symptoms, so the news was a shock. I was put on medication straight away.
“I knew I needed to get fit and healthy. I have arthritis in my hips, back and knees so am limited in what exercise I can do, but decided to take part in Diabetes UK’s Swim 22 challenge last year. At first I could only swim 10 lengths at a time, but by the end of the challenge I was able to swim 60 lengths in an hour. I lost more than two stone thanks to the swimming, cooking from scratch and eating more healthily and my blood sugars are now at a normal level.
“I have signed up for Swim 22 again this year to improve my fitness even more. My goal is to be medication-free by Christmas.”
Dai Williams, National Director, Diabetes UK Cymru, said:
“Diabetes is Wales’ biggest and fastest-growing health crisis. It costs the NHS in Wales over a £1 billion a year, the majority of which is spent on treating largely preventable complications. This doesn’t have to happen. Thousands of Type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented if we help people understand their risk and how to reduce it.
“Even though the older people get the more likely they are to have Type 2 diabetes, it is never too early to know your risk so that you can make changes to prevent or delay it. People often put common symptoms such as tiredness or needing the toilet more frequently down to normal aging, but if you have a family history of Type 2 diabetes, it’s worth checking things out.
“Spotting the signs of Type 2 diabetes early can be life-changing. Early diagnosis means that fewer people will experience complications such as sight loss, amputation, kidney failure, stroke and heart disease, because they could seek support to manage their condition effectively as soon as possible.
“We urge everyone to find out their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes with the Know your Risk tool.”