According to “incredibly troubling” data that experts say exposes the impact of soaring obesity levels, the number of people under 40 in the UK diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is rising faster than the over-40s. The UK ranks among the worst in Europe with the most overweight and obese adults, according to the World Health Organization. It is the third after Turkey and Malta in obesity rates alone.
The growing numbers of overweight and obese children and young adults across the UK are now translating into an “alarming acceleration” in type 2 diabetes cases among those aged 18 to 39, suggests Diabetes UK. There is a close association between obesity and type 2 diabetes. There is a seven times greater risk of type 2 diabetes in obese people compared with healthy weight, and a threefold increase in risk for those just overweight.
“This analysis confirms an incredibly troubling growing trend, underlining how serious health conditions related to obesity are becoming more and more prevalent in a younger demographic,” Chris Askew, the chief executive of Diabetes UK, said.
He added, “While it’s important to remember that type 2 diabetes is a complex condition with multiple other risk factors, such as genetics, family history and ethnicity, these statistics should serve as a serious warning to policymakers and our NHS. They mark a shift from what we’ve seen historically with type 2 diabetes and underline 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.”
While under-40s with the condition represent a small proportion of the total affected, it can have more severe and acute consequences in younger people and, without the right treatment and support, can lead to serious complications, Diabetes UK said.
“If you’re under 40, you’re not immune to type 2 diabetes,” said Askew. “It is vital that you check your risk now and that individuals, no matter their age or background, are allowed to access support to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes.”
Diabetes UK is encouraging those under 40 to check their disease risk using the free online tool on its website.