SOUTH Yorkshire is facing a diabetes time bomb sparked by obesity, bad diet and lack of exercise, charity bosses warned today.
New figures reveal around 3,000 people are freshly diagnosed with the disease in South Yorkshire each year - a problem which experts warn is costing the NHS a fortune and needs to be urgently tackled.
More than 67,000 adult diabetics are now registered with South Yorkshire GPs - a rise of nearly five per cent a year up from 64,000 last year and 61,000 the year before.
Although around a tenth of those patients suffer from Type 1 diabetes - a form of the disease that cannot be stopped and usually strikes when people are young - the remaining 90 per cent of the figures are those with Type 2, which is associated with obesity and bad diet.
Linda Wood, regional manager at Diabetes UK, warned today: “These numbers are quite startling.
“They are being driven by the growth of obesity, lifestyle and diet - and not enough people understand that this is a serious disease, with serious consequences.
“It can result in blindness, amputation, heart disease, stroke or kidney failure.
“The time for action is now. While rates of other serious conditions including many cancers, heart disease and stroke are steady or declining, the epidemic of diabetes continues to grow at even faster rates.
“We must reverse this trend if more people are not going to suffer unnecessarily and if diabetes is not going to bankrupt the NHS.”
Ms Wood said there may be thousands more people who have not been diagnosed with the condition, and urged people to take advantage of free vascular screening offered by GPs.
Around 80 per cent of Type 2 diabetes cases are linked to obesity.
But other things can also cause the disease, including genetics and age. People from black or South Asian backgrounds are likely to get it at a much younger age than other ethnic groups.
The signs and symptoms are not always obvious and the condition can go undetected for up to 10 years - meaning around half of people already show signs of complications by the time they are diagnosed.