The number of people with diabetes in the UK has reached five million for the first time ever, a health charity has said.

According to Diabetes UK, the country is in a “rapidly escalating diabetes crisis”, adding more should be done to prevent people from getting the condition.

Diabetes UK is urging the government to make the condition “central” to its upcoming major conditions strategy, in an effort to prevent new cases and support people at high risk.

Figures show 4.3 million people have been diagnosed with diabetes, with the charity estimating a further 850,000 are living with it, but do not know.

Some 90% of those who have diabetes, suffer with type 2, which is often associated with individuals being overweight or inactive.

People of Asian, Black African or African Caribbean origin could also be more at risk, as could those with high blood pressure.

The charity also believes more than 2.4 million people are at risk of contracting type 2 diabetes, which causes blood sugar levels to be too high, with concerns about the number of people in the UK who are overweight or obese.

More on Diabetes

Diabetes UK adds the condition is becoming increasingly more common in those under 40, and more prevalent in areas with social deprivation.

Read more: Diabetics to get ‘artificial pancreas’ on NHS which injects insulin via body-worn tracker

According to the NHS, you could have diabetes if you are urinating more frequently than normal, suffer from fatigue, are more thirsty than usual, or have rapid weight loss.

Left unchecked, it could develop into further side effects, such as sight loss, amputations, strokes, heart attacks and heart failure.

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

“It’s a relentless condition, and the fear of serious complications is a lifelong reality for millions of people across the 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.

“But it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right care and support, cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented or put into remission.

“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.”

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