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UK has a Sharp Jump in Incidence of Diabetes

Mar 10, 2009

A new analysis of data from the UK shows a 63% jump in diabetes incidence and a 54% increase in prevalence in only one decade, primarily due to a rise in obesity, researchers say in a report.

The study used data on 49,999 prevalent cases and 42,642 incident cases (type 1, n=1,256; type 2, n=41,386) of diabetes in UK patients aged 10 to 79. From 1996 to 2005, prevalence increased from 2.8% to 4.3% while the incidence rose from 2.71 per 1,000 person-years to 4.42 per 1,000 person-years.

Type 2 diabetes accounted for most of the increase, and the proportion of patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes who were obese increased from 46% to 56% during the decade, the authors state.

“Our results suggest that, although the incidence of diabetes remains lower in the UK than in the US or Canada, it appears to be increasing at a faster pace. We found an increase of 74% in the incidence of diabetes in the UK between 1997 and 2003 (from 2.84 to 4.66 per 1,000 person-years),” the researchers write. They point out that during the same time frame, Geiss et al using data from the National Health Interview Survey, showed an increase of 41%, from 4.9 to 6.9 per 1,000 person-years, in US adults aged 18 to 79 [2].

Dr. Judith Wylie-Rosett (Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY), an investigator in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial and the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), who wasn’t connected with the study from Massó-González et al, said their results reinforce the scope of the worldwide problems of obesity and diabetes.

Dr. Wylie-Rosett stated that, “I think we’ve got a global diabetes epidemic, and some places are a little further ahead of the curve than the UK, but the trends are universal.” 

From a public-health standpoint, Wylie-Rosett says that the DPP demonstrates the powerful impact of losing weight on reducing the incidence of diabetes. In that study, high-risk individuals in the diet and exercise intervention who lost the study’s target of 7% of body weight had a 58% reduction in the risk of developing diabetes over a three-year period. What is less well-known is that subjects who did not meet that weight-loss target still had a 44% reduction in risk if they did 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity five days a week [4], she said.

Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Feb 24, 2009.