The number of people living with diabetes in the UK has broken the five million mark, according to analysis by a health charity.

Figures from Diabetes UK show that 4.3 million people in Great Britain and Northern Ireland are now living with a diagnosis of the condition. However, the charity also estimates that an additional 850,000 people in the UK are living with diabetes but are yet to be diagnosed, taking the overall figure beyond five million for the first time.

Diabetes UK called on the government to ensure that national and local health systems ‘put diabetes at the heart of their plans’ to ensure more people at risk of type 2 diabetes are identified. The charity also wants to see a reduction in health inequalities, along with the targeting of communities where diabetes prevalence is high.

Registration figures for diabetes were up by 148,951 in 2021/22, and more than 2.4 million people are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the UK, according to the charity.

Approximately 90% of diagnoses are of type 2 diabetes, and around 8% of diagnoses are type 1 diabetes, with the other forms of the condition making up the remaining 2%.

‘Diabetes is serious and every diagnosis is life changing,’ said Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK.

‘These latest figures show we’re in the grip of a rapidly escalating diabetes crisis, with spiralling numbers of people now living with type 2 diabetes and millions at high risk of developing the condition,’ he added.

Diabetes UK highlighted the increasing prevalence of type 2 diabetes among those under the age of 40 and in areas where there are higher levels of deprivation.

Although the number of under 40s with type 2 diabetes remains a small proportion of total cases, it is known to have more severe and acute effects on younger people.

According to the charity, every week diabetes leads to 184 amputations, more than 770 strokes, 590 heart attacks and 2,300 cases of heart failure.

Diabetes UK also raised concern over the type 2 risk for the high numbers of people who are overweight or living with obesity – currently 64% of adults in England.

The charity called for a ‘firm commitment’ to diabetes in the government’s Major Conditions Strategy, including a continued focus on identifying those at high risk of type 2 diabetes and ensuring they are supported to reduce their risk by referral to the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme.

Diabetes UK also wants to see the government push ahead with its obesity strategy ‘without further delay’, including the implementation of delayed plans to limit junk food advertising to children.

‘With the right care and support, cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or put into remission,’ Mr Askew said.

‘What we need to see is the will, grit and determination from government and local health leaders to halt this crisis in its tracks and improve the future health of our nation for generations to come.’