Call for action to tackle 'alarming' rise in Type 2 diabetes among under 40s 

Charity warns policy makers face 'a generational opportunity' to tackle the crisis.

Cases of younger people being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in Scotland and across the UK are rising to “alarming levels” a charity has warned.  

A new report published by Diabetes UK says the UK Government and policy makers face “a generational opportunity” to tackle the crisis with a range of measures, including addressing the factors causing obesity and health inequalities.  

The report reveals there was an almost 40% increase in the number of people under the age of 40 living with a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes in the UK between 2016-17 and 2022-23.

It estimates there are now almost 168,000 people under 40 with the condition in the UK, a rise of more than 47,000 since 2016-17, and says the figures should come as a “major wake-up call” to policymakers.  

In Scotland, the number of cases of people under 40 living with Type 2 diabetes has risen by almost a third to 8,338 over the same period.

John Kinnear, national director at Diabetes Scotland said: “The rise in diagnoses of Type 2 diabetes in people under 40 in Scotland and across the UK is alarming.

“It’s a damning indictment of the barriers that many of us face to living a healthy life, where good food is affordable and exercise is accessible.  

“There is a generational opportunity to stop this crisis in its tracks and we are calling on all political parties to seize it. We need bold action to reverse the rising trend in Type 2 diabetes, overturn our broken food environment and give every child and young person the best possible chance to grow up in good health.  

“Diabetes Scotland welcomes the Scottish Government’s consultation on proposals to restrict the promotion of food and drink high in fat, sugar and salt and looks forward to robust legislation that supports people to eat well and have a healthy weight.”

“The decisions taken now will not only determine the health of young people today, but also the next generation.” 

Type 2 diabetes has historically been associated with older people. But cases among under 40s have been on the rise in recent years and are now increasing at a faster rate than among over 40s.

The condition is known to have more severe and acute consequences in people under 40 and, without the right treatment and support, it can lead to serious diabetes complications that include kidney failure and heart disease. 

The findings come as concerns mount about rising ill-health among working age people. 

Diabetes UK says the latest figures confirm an incredibly troubling growing trend, underlining how serious health conditions linked to obesity, caused by the environment we live in, are becoming more and more prevalent in a younger demographic.  

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