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Seven million in UK have "pre-diabetes"

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An estimated seven million people in the UK have pre-diabetes, making them up to 15 times more likely to develop diabetes, according to a new report released today by charity Diabetes UK.

People with pre-diabetes, also known as Impaired Glucose Regulation, have higher than normal blood sugar levels, but not high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes.

Recent research has shown pre-diabetes may already be causing long-term damage to the body, especially to the heart and circulatory system.

People with pre-diabetes are often overweight or obese when diagnosed, and 90% will have a family history of the condition or have high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

However, it is possible to reverse pre-diabetes, and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes can be reduced by 60% by making lifestyle changes such as losing weight, maintaining a healthy balanced diet and doing some sort of physical exercise.

Diabetes UK Chief Executive, Douglas Smallwood, said: “It’s staggering that an estimated seven million people in the UK have pre-diabetes, which is often a precursor to Type 2 diabetes, a serious condition which can lead to long term complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputation and blindness.

“Identifying and educating people with pre-diabetes is vital as it’s not too late for many to make healthy lifestyle changes, reverse the condition completely and reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

“Recent figures show that more than 145,000 new cases of mainly Type 2 diabetes were diagnosed in the past year, bringing the total number of people with diabetes in the UK to 2.6 million.

"It’s time for all of us to get serious about our health if we want to have any chance of defusing the ticking time bomb of Type 2 diabetes.”

The health charity said that it welcomed government plans to identify people at risk of diabetes and heart disease in England, but wants to see this extended throughout the UK.

The report was released to mark the launch of the charity's Get Serious campaign, aimed at involving more people in Diabetes UK activities.

This article was published on Mon 19 October 2009

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