A leading health charity says that by 2025 there will be more than four million people with diabetes in the UK.

Diabetes UK notes that currently 2.3 million people in these islands are diagnosed with the disease and more than 500,000 also have the condition but are not aware of it. The new statistics, based on research done by the Yorkshire and Humber Public Health Observatory, would mean an additional 1.3 million people with the condition by 2025, a 46% increase, bringing the total to an estimated 4.2 million.

The charity says that most of the increase will be due to rising numbers of overweight or obese people. 80% of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight and the increase will have major consequences on the general health of the UK population as it can lead to complications including heart disease, blindness, kidney disease and amputation. It will also mean higher costs for the National Health Service which already spends some £10,000 per minute treating diabetes and its complications.

Douglas Smallwood, chief executive of Diabetes UK, said that the new figures “are shocking and confirm that diabetes is one of the main health challenges facing the UK today. Awareness and prevention are crucial if we want to see the number of people with type 2 diabetes fall”.

The charity announced the figures as part of Diabetes Week which also saw the government launch its £30 million ‘Healthy Communities Challenge Fund’, whereby towns will be invited to come up with ways to improve the health of their inhabitants. Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said that "tackling obesity is the most significant public and personal health challenge facing our society”.

He concluded by saying that “the core of the problem is simple - we eat too much and we do too little exercise”. However, “the solution is more complex” and “it is harder to avoid obesity in the modern world”, Mr Bradshaw added.