Diabetes UK says that seven million people are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and if current obesity trends continue, an estimated five million WILL have the disease by 2025.
Of the 3.2 million people who currently have diabetes, 90% suffer from Type 2, which is largely due to the obesity rate.
A diabetes audit found that of the almost quarter million people recently diagnosed diabetics, 88.2% have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or above, and 56.7% have a BMI of over 30.
“Diabetes has now become a national health emergency,” warned Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, Barbara Young, as she explained that the NHS now spends 10% of its entire budget on treating the condition.
Diabetes UK estimate that more than 630,000 more people have the condition but are not yet aware of it.
At the start of this year, The Overseas Development Institute said that 64% of adults in the UK are classed as being overweight or obese, increasing their risk to diabetes, as well as heart attacks and strokes.
Ms Young said: “These new findings show we will only ever begin to turn back the rising tide of Type 2 diabetes if we finally get to grips with the obesity epidemic.”
Diabetes UK is urging people to make changes to their lifestyle and wants the government to do more to encourage people to make healthier choices.
Ms Young said: “The Government needs to introduce policies and legislation that make it easier for people to make healthy choices.
“We need to make sure the NHS Health Check, which assesses people for risk of Type 2 diabetes, is properly implemented.
“Crucially, we need to make sure that people identified as being high risk are given the support they need to make the lifestyle changes that can help prevent it.”
However the study did also found that 11.3% of people developed the disease despite being a healthy weight.
Diabetes UK says that there are other risk factors involved, such as family history, ethnicity and age, but obesity is currently the greatest concern.
Another recent study, co-funded by the British Heart Foundation, also found that those who work at least 55 hours a week in a low-status, badly paid job are almost a third more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in people of working age in the UK and is a major cause of kidney failure, strokes, and lower limb amputation.
To find out if you are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, visit http://riskscore.diabetes.org.uk/2013
Picture courtesy of FBellon, with thanks