Diabetes spike in under 40s fuelled by unhealthy diet and obesity, study finds

A teenage girl with diabetes checks her blood sugar  ((Alamy/PA))
A teenage girl with diabetes checks her blood sugar ((Alamy/PA))

There has been a 40 per cent increase in type 2 diabetes cases in those aged under 40 which can be largely attributed to unhealthy diets and obesity, a new study has revealed.

While type 2 diabetes cases have typically been associated with older individuals, the condition has been increasingly found amongst younger people in recent years.

Some 168,000 Britons under 40 live with type 2 diabetes - up 47,000 since 2016-17 - the Diabetes UK study found.

Other figures in the report reveal that nearly 4.4 million people in the UK live with a diagnosis of diabetes as of 2022-23.

Around eight per cent of these cases are type 1, while 90 per cent are type 2 diabetes. Other types of the condition make up the remaining two per cent.

Colette Marshall, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said: “Diagnoses of type 2 diabetes in people under 40 are rising to alarming levels. It’s a damning indictment of the barriers that many of us face to living a healthy life, where good food is affordable, and exercise isn't a luxury.

“There is a generational opportunity to stop this crisis in its tracks and we are calling on all political parties to seize it.

“We need bold action to reverse the rising trend in type 2 diabetes, overturn our broken food environment and give every child and young person the best possible chance to grow up in good health.”

The report has called on the Government to “put the building blocks of health in place for every child”, including access to green space, affordable, healthy food, and quality housing.It suggests expanding on “the success of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy”.

It has also called for sustainable long-term investment in targeted support programmes to reduce inequalities among ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.

The impact of diabetes is felt disproportionately by those from the UK’s most deprived areas and those from Black and South Asian backgrounds, Diabetes UK said.