Cases of diabetes increase to more than 3.2m

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The number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has increased to more than 3.2m, NHS data reveals.

Last year, there were 163,000 new diagnoses - the biggest annual increase since 2008, GP figures show.

This means 6% of UK adults are registered as diabetic. An estimated 850,000 more have diabetes without knowing it.

Diabetes UK says the rise is largely fuelled by type 2 diabetes, linked to obesity and unhealthy lifestyles.

It says more needs to be done to target those at risk.

The charity combined GP data from England. Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to calculate the overall figure of how many people in the UK are diagnosed with diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes accounts for about a tenth of cases and occurs when the insulin-producing cells in the body have been destroyed.

Type 2 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly.

Insulin enables the body to use sugar as energy and store any excess in the liver and muscle.

If this fails, blood sugar rises and this can cause long-term complications, such as kidney damage.

The NHS spends 10% of its budget on diabetes and 80% of this goes on treating consequences such as amputation, kidney failure, heart disease and stroke.

Baroness Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: "The big increase in the number of people with diabetes confirms that we are in the middle of an unfolding public health disaster that demands urgent action.

"It is frightening to think that one in 17 people you walk past in the street has been diagnosed with the condition."

Prof Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for obesity and diabetes at NHS England, said: "Prevention has to be a crucial part of our approach and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is significantly reduced with a healthy lifestyle."

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