Around 200K people in Northern Ireland living with or at risk of diabetes

There are nearly 200,000 people in Northern Ireland who are living with or at risk of developing diabetes according to new figures from the Department of Health.

The figures show that thre has been a 11.4% increase in the number of people in Northern Ireland who are registered with prediabetes, and almost 3,000 new registrations of people living with diabetes in the past 12 months.

Prediabetes, also known as non-diabetic hyperglycaemia, is where a person’s blood sugars are higher than usual, but not high enough for them to receive a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

Read more: Diabetic Duo: Northern Ireland TikTok stars say new ‘artificial pancreas’ technology would be life-changing

Read more: Belfast woman on vital assistance dog support during Long Covid journey

A breakdown of the data across all Trust areas is as follows:

Trust / Breakdown Diabetes Prediabetes

Belfast 24,238 12,491

South Eastern 20,353 11,764

Northern 29,994 19,984

Southern 22,155 17,841

Western 17,933 11,446

Prevalence reporting for prediabetes has been in place for around 20 years, with the 2023/2024 figures highlighting that diabetes diagnoses have more than doubled since then. Prediabetes prevalence reporting was first introduced in last year’s report, indicating that 66,000 people were registered with prediabetes at that time.

Diabetes UK Northern Ireland Interim National Director, Roxanne Small, said: “These new figures are significant in showing us that nearly 200,000 people are living with, or at risk of diabetes in Northern Ireland. In our work, we see first-hand how it is an incredibly tough and relentless condition that can have a huge impact on a person’s life – therefore, it is vitally important that people are aware of the resources and support available to help manage their health and wellbeing.

“Whilst the reporting of prediabetes cases is relatively new for Northern Ireland, the increase we’ve seen over the last year is considerable. We strongly believe that greater awareness and reporting across the region have played a strong role in this rise. Prediabetes has been a real topic of conversation when speaking with members of the public as they are keen to understand more about it and how they may be able to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”

It is unlikely for people with prediabetes to experience any of the traditional diabetes symptoms (the 4Ts – Toilet, Thirsty, Tired, Thinner). For those who may have concerns, it is recommended that they contact their GP surgery to request a blood test. The most common test checks a person’s HbA1c levels, which are their average blood glucose levels over the last two to three months. HbA1c levels between 42mmol/mol – 47mmol/mol are considered higher than normal and suggest a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Roxanne continued, “We understand that for some people it may feel that a prediabetes diagnosis means that type 2 diabetes is certain, however, this is not always the case. While you may be at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, many people can reduce their risk, and it may be possible to prevent or delay the condition from developing. For anyone with concerns, we really encourage you to contact your healthcare team and reach out to our team for local support. Our website also has a free Know Your Risk tool that can tell you more about your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”

To learn more about the support offered by Diabetes UK Northern Ireland, please visit www.diabetes.org.uk/NorthernIreland or email n.ireland@diabetes.org.uk. The charity also has a dedicated helpline team that can be reached Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm on 0345 123 2399.

For all the latest news, visit the Belfast Live homepage here and sign up to our daily newsletter here.