33% increase in diabetics in Northern Ireland

Injection with insulin The number of people in Northern Ireland with diabetes has risen by 33% in five years

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The number of people in Northern Ireland living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes has increased by 33% during the last five years according to new figures.

The total number of adults with diabetes aged 17 and over who are registered with GPs is now 75,837.

This compares to a figure of 56,924 in 2007.

The figure for Northern Ireland compares with a rise of 25% in England, 20% in Wales and 18% in Scotland.

Iain Foster, National Director of Diabetes UK Northern Ireland, described the statistics as "very worrying".

He said it was important "urgent steps" were taken "to ensure that they don't continue to escalate further".

"Diabetes is a rising challenge within our health service and it is vital that an effective strategy is put in place to ensure we do not see a similar increase in the next five years," he said.

Diabetes UK said type 2 diabetes was often, but not always, linked to lifestyle factors.

It said that in many cases, the condition could be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular physical activity and eating a balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables but low in fat, sugar and salt.

It said type 1 diabetes was also on the increase. It is a serious condition that develops when the body cannot produce any insulin.

Diabetes UK said the cause of type 1 diabetes is still unknown "but has no link to lifestyle and therefore cannot be prevented".

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