Five million people in England are now at risk of developing type II diabetes, according the latest analysis of data by Public Health England.

More than one in 10 of the population now has pre-diabetes - characterised by high blood sugar levels falling short of a full diabetes diagnosis - placing them on fast-track to developing the disease.

PHE is now attempting to slash the number of cases of type II diabetes by more than a quarter through a new prevention programme, which strives to identify people at risk through a blood test and then offer support on leading healthier lifestyles.

The number of people living with diabetes in the UK has rocketed 60% in just a decade, at a cost to the National Health Service of nearly £9 billion a year, highlighting the urgent need for new strategies to promote healthier lifestyles and better manage the condition.

New targets

Along these lines, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has tightened up blood glucose targets for children and young people with diabetes, lowering the ceiling from 58 mmols/mol (7.5%) to 48 mmols/mol (6.5%), in a bid to further cut the risk of serious related complications such as blindness, amputation and stroke later on in adult life.

Diabetes UK has welcomed the move, but also called on the government to take steps to ensure appropriate support is on offer for children and their families, to give them the best change of achieving the new target.

“The majority of children with Type 1 diabetes already struggle to achieve current blood glucose targets with the most recent figures revealing that less than one in five manage this,” noted Barbara Young, the charity’s chief executive.

“It is critical that [patients] receive the emotional support, such as improved access to specialist psychological care, they and their families need to feel empowered to achieve these new targets,” she added.

200,000 complications a year

This week the Diabetes UK also revealed findings of an analysis showing that diabetes patients suffer 200,000 devastating complications such as amputation, heart attack and stroke every year.

Figures show that in England and Wales just 36% of diabetics are meeting the recommended levels for blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol, while even in the best performing area just 48% are achieving these goals, again underscoring the need for better care and support.