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UK diabetes cases growing faster than US, finds study

By Lorraine Heller , 24-Feb-2009

New figures published today reveal that the incidence of diabetes in the UK has soared in recent years, increasing at a faster rate than in North America.

Published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, the research found that new cases of diabetes diagnosed in the UK rose 74 per cent in the six years between 1997 and 2003.

The steep increase in prevalence of the condition, which is thought to mirror the overall global landscape, backs the growing market need for food and supplement products that could help prevent or control diabetes.

The newly released figures are based on new and existing cases of type 1 and type 2 diabetes among the UK general population (ages 10 to 79).

Data was gathered from over 300 general practices and entered into the Health Improvement Network database – which contains around five million medical records – between 1996 and 2005.

According to the findings, details of 42,642 new diabetes sufferers were entered into the database during the decade, almost doubling the figure of 49,999 previously-diagnosed cases.

This indicates that rates of diabetes are increasing at a faster rate in the UK than they are in North America, where prevalence of the disease is one of the highest in the world.

“Our results suggest that, although the incidence of diabetes remains lower in the UK than in the USA or Canada, it appears to be increasing at a faster pace,” the authors said.

The overall prevalence of diabetes increased from 2.8 per cent of the population in 1996 to 4.3 per cent in 2005. The prevalence of the disease was 29 per cent higher among men than among women.

Market need

“This is a confirmation of what we see happening globally, not only in the UK,” said ingredient firm DSM, which, in the past two years alone, has launched two new products that can be used in foods or supplements targeting diabetes sufferers – InsuVital and TensGuard.

Global business manager for DSM functional foods, Luc van der Heyden, told that this rise in diagnosis of diabetes is paralleled by an increase in consumer awareness and demand for foods or supplements targeting the condition.

“The awareness of the dangers of having too high blood sugar levels is increasing rapidly. You see consumers responding to that, wanting to do something more active,” he said.

Type 2 prevails

According to the new figures published today ahead of print, most of the new cases of diabetes were type 2, which is non-insulin dependant and acquired as a result of diet and lifestyle. Incidence of type 2 diabetes increased 69 per cent over the decade.

Some 41,000 newly diagnosed sufferers had type 2 diabetes, while only 1,250 had the insulin-dependant, inherited type 1.

“The rise in obesity has had a significant role. In 1996 38 per cent of people newly diagnosed with type 2 disease were overweight and 46 per cent were obese; in 2005, the corresponding proportions were 32 per cent and 56 per cent, respectively,” noted the study.

Source:Trends in the prevalence and incidence of diabetes in the UK: 1996-2005 Online First J Epidemiol Community Health 2009; doi 10.1136/jech.2008.080382Authors: E L Masso Gonzalez, S Johansson, M-A Wallander, L A Garcia Rodriguez

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