Almost 50,000 people could have diabetes in Wales by 2035, research shows

A new report from Public Health Wales has found that one in 11 Welsh people could be living with diabetes in the next 12 years.

On Tuesday, Public Health Wales published their new report which highlights that there will be an additional 48,000 people with diabetes in Wales by 2035 if current patterns continue.

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The research also highlights that 200,000 people in the country are already living with diabetes, which, equates to 8% of adults. From this statistic, 90% of these cases have type 2 diabetes, over half of which could be prevented or delayed with behaviour changes.

Should more people develop diabetes in Wales, significant pressures would be pilled onto their NHS. In 2021/22 diabetes related hospital spells cost the NHS an average of £4,518 per spell and in 2022/23 £105m was spent on drugs to manage diabetes.

One example of this is Darren Rix, who, last summer was told he had pre-diabetes at a routine eye appointment.

‘It was totally out of the blue,’ he said. ‘I had an eye test and the optometrist noticed something on the back of my eye, so I was referred for a blood test. I was called into my GP practice and told that my blood sugar levels were high.’

After being referred to the All Wales Diabetes Prevention Programme, Darren was given dietary advice and encouraged to take up more exercise.

He said: ‘I could see now the amount of junk I was eating which wasn’t good. Junk food in small moderation, not so often, that’s fine because that works out as a little treat. But obviously we need to come away from quick fast foods and actually making healthier foods.’

Against this backdrop, the Welsh government has comprised a 10-year plan to prevent and reduce obesity and has introduced a number of laws to restrict the promotion of unhealthy foods.

Dr Amrita Jesurasa, consultant in public health for Public Health Wales, said: ‘There has been a 40% increase in the number of people living with diabetes in Wales in just over the last 10 years – an increase of 60,000 people.

‘Type 2 diabetes is a leading cause of sight loss and a contributor to kidney failure, heart attack and stroke. In 2021/22 alone, more than 560 people in Wales underwent amputations linked with diabetes.

‘The increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes is therefore very concerning for the health and wellbeing of the people of Wales, as well as recognising the extra pressure this puts on health services.

‘But the good news is that by supporting people to make behaviour changes, over half of type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented.  The main risk factors which people can take action on include having a healthier weight, eating a healthy diet, and being physically active.’

‘The independent process evaluation of the programme showed that nearly half of those who attended an appointment with us and completed a survey were unaware they were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes before receiving information about the programme,’ Dr Jesurasa said. ‘That is why it’s so important for people to find out their level of risk for developing type 2 diabetes.’

Image: terimakasih0

More on this topic:

Welsh government unveils new approach to tackle diabetes

Delayed diabetes checks potentially contributed to England’s excess death rate


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