Diabetes activist and radio presenter Pitso Molemane launched a diabetes family awareness initiative in Greenhills Stadium, Randfontein, West Rand, with activities such as running and free testing and screenings. Nokuthula Mbatha African News Agency (ANA)

Spiralling obesity rates mean one person in the UK is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes every three minutes, figures show.

The number of new cases in England and Wales reached 202665 in 2017 - the equivalent of about 23 people every hour, according to National Health Service (NHS) figures.

Experts said the statistics illustrated the “frightening speed” at which the obesity-driven illness was increasing.

Diabetes is the UK’s fastest growing health crisis, with the number of sufferers doubling in 20 years from 1.9million to 3.7million. A million more are estimated to be unaware they are living with the condition.

Analysis by Diabetes UK of the latest confirmed figures found there had been 192245 new diagnoses in England and 10420 in Wales.

About 90% of diabetes sufferers have the Type 2 form, which is linked to sedentary lifestyles and poor diet.

Two-thirds of adults and a third of children are now overweight - and the UK has the third highest obesity rate in Europe. The charity said the UK must get to grips with bulging waistlines to reduce rates of the illness.

Chris Askew, the chief executive of Diabetes UK, said: “One person being diagnosed every three minutes illustrates the frightening speed at which the number of people living with Type2 diabetes is increasing. However, three in five cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed by eating well, being active and achieving a healthy weight, meaning there is hope for the future.

“Action must also be taken to tackle the obesity epidemic, which has contributed to the rise of Type 2 diabetes.”

He said a further 12.3million were at risk of developing the condition, and encouraged people to use the NHS Know Your Risk tool.

Diabetes costs the NHS almost £9billion (R166bn) a year, and one in six hospital beds at any one time is occupied by someone with the condition.

While Type1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease that occurs if the body stops producing insulin, Type2 is largely preventable.

Type 2 develops because of a fatty build-up around the muscle and liver cells - with nine in 10 with this form of disease either overweight or obese.

Though both types can be controlled using drugs, it's still regarded as a life- shortening condition because of the damage caused by the build-up of sugar in the blood over time. The charity estimates that unless action is taken, by 2030 over 5.5million people will be living with diabetes in the UK.

Various measures, including prescribing a low-calorie soup and shake diet to patients, are being rolled out as part of the NHS Long Term Plan. The scheme puts diabetics on a liquid-only diet of 800 calories a day, after trials showed it was successful.

Department of Health officials are also considering measures to reduce obesity, including mandatory calorie labelling and bans on promotions of foods that are high in sugar and fat.

Food firms and restaurants have also been told to cut their calorie content by a fifth by 2024.

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: “Although a prevention plan is now being rolled out, expect the figures to escalate until the government starts to get serious about tackling obesity.”

Dr Partha Kar, an associate clinical director for diabetes for NHS England, said the figures “confirm the importance of the action set out in the NHS Long Term Plan”. 

Daily Mail