Scotland

Diabetes levels in Scotland 'at all time high'

checking blood sugar levels Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption People with diabetes must take regular blood glucose readings

More people in Scotland have diabetes than ever before - and the number is continuing to rise, according to figures published by a charity.

Diabetes Scotland said the number of people registered with the condition reached an all-time high of 276,000 last year.

About 17,200 of these had been newly-diagnosed, the charity said.

About 10% of the total had Type 1 diabetes, with the majority of the remainder diagnosed with Type 2.

The charity also said an estimated 45,500 people were living with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes in Scotland.

The figures were released to coincide with the start of Diabetes Week, which aims to raise awareness of the condition.


What is diabetes?

  • No one knows for sure what causes Type 1 diabetes, which develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body have been destroyed and the body is unable to produce any insulin.
  • Everyone with Type 1 diabetes has to be treated with insulin.
  • There is thought to be a genetic element to Type 1 diabetes and it is much more common in some parts of the world than others.
  • But it has nothing to do with lifestyle or weight.
  • It can develop at any age but usually appears before the age of 40 and most commonly in late childhood.
  • Type 2 diabetes develops when the body still makes some insulin, but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly.
  • Initially, Type 2 diabetes can often be controlled with a healthy diet and regular physical activity.
  • Medication is also often required and a significant minority of people eventually progress to needing insulin.
  • People are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes if they are overweight, have a large waist, have a close relative with diabetes, or are from an African Caribbean, Black African, Chinese or South Asian background.

Read more information on diabetes


Jane-Claire Judson, the national director of Diabetes Scotland, said there had been a 25% increase in the number of people living with diabetes in Scotland since 2008.

She added: "While this trend itself is of great concern, a major issue facing people living with diabetes is the lack of provision and access to good diabetes education.

"Managing diabetes without this education is like asking someone to drive a high performance car without any instruction.

"We acknowledge there have been improvements in patient education in recent years and the issue was highlighted in the Scottish government's recent Diabetes Improvement Plan 2014.

"However, more needs to be done to ensure that every person diagnosed with diabetes is given the opportunity for structured education to help them learn how to manage the condition well."

Diabetes is a serious condition which requires careful management to avoid developing serious health complications including lower limb amputation, blindness, and stroke.

Diabetes Scotland believes up to 80% of these complications could potentially be avoided through better management of the condition.

The charity said NHS Scotland spends £1bn each year treating diabetes, the majority of this on what it said were avoidable complications.

Minister for Public Health Maureen Watt said: "We know that the number of people living with diabetes in Scotland is increasing.

"However it is important to recognise that there is no definite increase in the number of new cases of diabetes which suggests people are living longer with the condition.

"We absolutely recognise the importance of good quality information and education to help people control their condition. Much work has been done to ensure that high quality structured education programmes are in place which can be delivered by appropriately trained staff.

"Our Diabetes Improvement plan, published last year, contains a commitment to work with NHS boards to ensure that everyone newly diagnosed with diabetes has access to structured education within the first six months."

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