The number of people living with diabetes is going up and up. There are now almost 3.5 million people diagnosed with the condition in England, an increase of more than 65 per cent in a decade. In addition, there are an estimated 549,000 people who have Type 2 diabetes but don’t know they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed. The numbers of people living with diabetes is only set to rise, and this will have a huge impact, not just on the people diagnosed but on the NHS.

Diabetes is often viewed as a mild condition, but it is very serious and if unmanaged can lead to devastating complications such as blindness, amputations, and stroke. As well as being personally devastating for those involved, these complications are also extremely costly to our already stretched health service. The NHS spend £10 billion every year on diabetes, which equates to around 10 per cent of the NHS budget, and most of this cost is spent on managing avoidable complications.

There are an estimated 549,000 people who have Type 2 diabetes but don’t know they have it because they haven’t been diagnosed

While both types of diabetes are on the rise, Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 per cent of all cases and unlike Type 1 diabetes we can all take action on our risk of developing it. While there are risk factors for Type 2 diabetes that you can’t do anything about such as your age, ethnicity and family history, you can reduce your risk of the condition by eating well, staying active and maintaining a healthy weight.


Healthier You


Prevention of Type 2 diabetes, therefore, provides a great opportunity to reduce complications and NHS costs that arise from the condition.
This is why it is we have jointly launched, Healthier You, the first national NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme, along with Public Health England and NHS England. The programme, which is designed based on the evidence of successful trials, will offer support to the many people in England who are at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to reduce their risk, through making changes to their diet and levels of physical activity. Those at high risk are defined as having high blood glucose levels (an HbA1c 42 – 47 mmol/mol (6.0 – 6.4 per cent) or a fasting plasma glucose (FPG) of 5.5 – 6.9 mmol/l,) that are not high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes but indicate they are at risk of developing the condition in the future.  

But while Healthier You is a major step in the right direction, the programme will not be enough on its own to halt the rising tide of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. We need action taken across a range of areas to help people to lead healthier lives. This must include placing restrictions on marketing junk foods to children and government-set targets for the food and drinks industry to reduce the salt, fat and sugar content in their foods to make them healthier. All of these measures should be included in the government’s long awaited Childhood Obesity Strategy, which must be published and implemented as soon as possible.


Further information about the programme is available at