The UK is the worst in the world for the rise in diabetes among young people as research shows cases of type 2 of the condition have quadrupled since 1990
- Type 2 diabetes usually develops in middle-aged and older people
- Rising rates of obesity have led to younger people being diagnosed
- In 1990 the UK had 94 cases per 100,000 young adults, in 2019 it was almost 347
- The condition increases the risk of heart disease, vision loss, and death
Levels of type 2 diabetes among adolescents and young adults have been rising faster in Britain than anywhere else in the world, a study suggests.
Since 1990, the number of young people diagnosed with the condition has nearly quadrupled, according to researchers who analyzed data from more than 200 countries and regions.
Type 2 diabetes usually develops in middle-aged and older people, increasing the risk of complications such as heart disease and vision loss and death.
But rising rates of obesity have pushed younger people to be diagnosed as well, leading to an alarming rise in rates of the condition over the past 30 years.
Since 1990, the number of young people diagnosed with the condition has almost quadrupled
The team, from Harbin Medical University in China, used data from the Global Burden of Disease study to compare type 2 diabetes in people aged 15 to 39.
Their results, published in the BMJ, show that the UK had 94 cases of type 2 diabetes per 100,000 young adults in 1990. But by 2019, this had almost quadrupled to nearly 347.
Canada recorded the second fastest increase, jumping from about 29 cases per 100,000 young people in 1990 to 79 in 2019.
Across the world, the number of young people diagnosed has increased from 117 per 100,000 in 1990 to 183 per 100,000 in 2019.
The main attributable risk factor for early-onset type 2 diabetes was a high body mass index, with air pollution and smoking also having an effect, according to the study.
The researchers said: ‘Our study showed a clear upward trend in the burden of early-onset type 2 diabetes from 1990 to 2019.
‘On a country level, the United Kingdom and Canada had the fastest increase in age-standardised incidence.
“These findings provide a foundation for understanding the epidemic nature of early-onset type 2 diabetes and call for urgent action to address the problem from a global perspective.
“Weight management is essential to reduce the burden of early-onset type 2 diabetes, but countries need to develop specific policies to address this problem more effectively.”
Diabetes causes the sugar level in the blood to become too high and can lead to complaints such as excessive thirst, having to urinate a lot and fatigue.
Most people with the condition require medication to keep their blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible, such as metformin tablets taken with or after meals.
Earlier this year, the Daily Mail revealed that nearly 500 people a week diagnosed with type 2 diabetes could reverse the disease when a radical soup and shake diet is rolled out nationwide on the NHS.