53.4 million prescriptions handed out by GPs were fuelled by the UK's Obesity Crisis – at a cost of more than £ 1billion a year.

NHS figures show that the number of items prescribed for the debilitating condition has increased every year since 2007/08.

Robin Hewings, of Diabetes UK, said: "Diabetes is the biggest threat to the health of our country.

"The number of people diagnosed has been doubled in the last 20 years and it is responsible for 26,000 early deaths a year along with serious complications such as blindness, amputation or stroke.

The NHS is about £ 10billion a year so the real price we have to pay for diabetes is the medications, and the devastating and expensive complications. "

In England, NHS spent $ 8.8billion prescribing drugs in 2017/18 of which more than £ 1billion was spent on diabetes.

Of that £ 476million was spent on anti-diabetic drugs, £ 350million on insulin and £ 181million on diagnostic and monitoring devices.

The scale of the crisis is now 10 per cent of the total health service budget is plowed into battling the condition, equal to around £ 1million an hour.

One of the most prescribed prescribed diabetes drugs is metformin which was dished out 21,163,271 times in 2017.

Type 1, autoimmune disease suffered by Prime Minister Theresa May, occurs when the pancreas, a small gland behind the stomach, fails to produce insulin – the hormone regulating blood glucose levels. If the amount of glucose is too high it can, over time, damage vital organs.

Just 10 per cent of all sufferers have Type 1, but it is the most common sort of childhood diabetes.

But in Type 2, the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin or the cells does not react to it.

It now affects one in 10 adults with cases soaring due to our obsession with convenience foods.

The debilitating condition is caused by blood sugar levels to soar.

Around four million are blighted by both types of diabetes, but one more.

It means 25 per cent of the UK population has, or could develop, an illness that can kill.

Type 2 has rocketed 40 per cent in four years (Image: Terry Vine / Getty Images)

Dr Aseem Malhotra, NHS cardiologist and professor of evidence based medicine, said: "These statistics are shockingly disturbing which highlights the urgency of Type 2 reversal.

What patients and doctors say it does not do it? "

Type 2, normally only seen in adults and linked to obesity, has rocketed 40 per cent in four years. Some in the UK have been struck down as young as nine in the mid-40s.

A decade ago no child in Britain had the disease but more than 700

Vascular surgeon Martin Claridge said, "The cost of these treatments and their ongoing care will continue to rise and break as we learn to sleep in this crisis [it used to be rare below the age of 40 years],


Diabetic woman injecting herself in the abdomen with insulin (Image: Getty Images / Science Photo Library RM)

The NHS Diabetes Prevention Program has now reached over a quarter of a million people at high risk of Type 2

Professor Jonathan Valabhji

The effects of this phenomenon could not be improved. This is at a huge cost to the individual and society as a whole. "

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said: "For many patients with diabetes, medication is essential to help them manage their condition and live a good quality of life.

"But we know how to make straightforward lifestyle changes, for example, eating a healthy and balanced diet, losing weight and exercising more."

Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and obesity at NHS England, said, "Thanks to Better Diagnosis and Treatment, the NHS is caring for more people than ever before with diabetes and this new data highlights the urgent need to prevent Type 2 from developing in the first place The NHS Diabetes Prevention Program has now reached over a quarter of a million people at high risk of Type 2. "


How I beat disease by MP Tom Watson (now 98lb lighter)

OVERWEIGHT, Laboratory MP Tom Watson was unaware that he was living with his unhealthy lifestyle.

But for the 51-year-old Labor Party deputy leader paid little attention to his diet – until his doctor diagnosed him with Type 2 diabetes in 2015.

Like millions across the UK he was gorging on.

He has put his condition into remission and he has put his money into a new life.

Through a series of subtle lifestyle changes he has managed to lose 98lb in a year.

Mr Watson's seven-stone road to recovery started by cutting sugar, refined sugar, processed foods and starchy carbohydrates like bread, pasta and potatoes.


Overweight politician Tom Watson at the Glastonbury Music Festival in June 2017 (Image: OLI SCARFF / AFP / Getty Images)

30 years, initially walking, then cycling, running, boxing and weight-training.

Now lets say he can do it, so can people at risk of Type 2 diabetes.

He said: "Through the journey I have come to the realization that we have a whole nation of battling weight loss and health problems.

"Approximately 14 million UK adults are obese." About 15 million more are overweight.

"The figures for obesity's twin evil, diabetes, are shocking too." In 1998 just three per cent of adults in England had diabetes diagnosed. "By 2016 that had more than doubled to seven per cent.


Tom Watson's new slimline look (Image: Ian West / PA Wire)

"Every year in the UK 26,000 people with diabetes the prematurely.

"One of the key culprits for this enormous rise is sugar and the sugar industry."

Mr Watson says he has improved his blood glucose levels now back to normal again.

He said: "I consider myself reformed sugar addict because I know that if I take sugar in it again, I'm liberated, I do not get tired, I do not get the thing called ' brain fog 'when your mental acuity is deadened a bit.

"All of that is gone."


The number of people diagnosed with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes has doubled in the last 20 years, so it's no surprise that the cost of medication has increased to over £ 1billion per year.

With the 12.3 million people at risk of developing Type 2, the growing diabetes crisis should be a priority.

Type 2 can be caused by a variety of factors, some are out of people's control – including age, family history and ethnic background.

People who are overweight are more likely to get Type 2. Unlike Type 1, three in five cases of Type 2 can be prevented or delayed by making healthier choices, by helping people understand their own risk of developing the condition – and how to reduce it – and by securing early diagnosis for those known to beat high risk.

Diabetes does not just cost the £ 1billion spent on medications, the total cost to the NHS is over £ 10bn because of the devastating and expensive complications.


The debilitating condition is triggered by unhealthy living (Image: Justin Paget / Getty Images)

In England and Wales, 26,000 people with diabetes the prematurely every year with many of these deaths being caused by avoidable complications, such as heart disease, kidney failure and stroke.

The number of diabetes-related amputations in England is now at an all-time high, with more than 8,500 procedures being carried out each year.

These equates to 24 minor and major amputations per day, or more than 160 a week.

The real value we have to pay for diabetes is the same as that which has been diagnosed with the condition, but the overall human and financial cost of our society as a whole.

NHS prevention program, we should focus on spending more money now on helping people manage their diabetes well.

The NHS Long Term Plan needs to ensure that they receive education and care.

Robin Hewings is Head of Policy at Diabetes UK


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