New data from GP practices has shown that the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK has risen by more than 167,000 since last year, bringing the total to almost 2.5 million.
The rise is more than double the 2006 to 2007 increase of 83,000. In England, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has exceeded two million for the first time, with a 6.4% increase.
In Northern Ireland and Wales, the increase was 6.8% and 6% respectively, while improved recording in Scotland contributed to the biggest rise of 16.9%.
Around 90% of people with diabetes have type 2 diabetes, which is strongly linked to lifestyle factors such as being overweight or obese, leading a sedentary lifestyle and eating an unhealthy diet.
Douglas Smallwood, chief executive of Diabetes UK, commented: "These are truly alarming figures. Part of why we have seen such a huge increase can be attributed to improved screening from healthcare services and greater awareness amongst those at high risk of type 2 diabetes.
"However, there is no getting away from the fact that this large increase is linked to the obesity crisis. The NHS already spends £1m an hour on diabetes. The soaring diabetes prevalence will continue to put a massive strain on an already struggling NHS and unless it can respond, people's health could spiral downwards."
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