Study finds more than 500 people in the UK could be dying prematurely every week through being unaware of the risks linked with the condition.
Around 90% of people in the UK are unaware of the warning signs of type 2 diabetes according to a new study of 2,000 adults.
A recently published report commissioned by Bluecrest Health Screening found that just a third of adults in the UK make conscious decisions about their health and lifestyle to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The signs and symptoms of diabetes to look out for include; increased thirst, unexplained weight loss, headaches, fatigue and the slow healing of cuts and wounds.
The report found around one fifth (19%) of people said they were aware of these symptoms.
Study authors highlighted that the risk of leaving type 2 diabetes untreated can be life threatening, with estimates that the condition can be linked to 169 amputations, 680 strokes, 530 heart attacks and 2,000 cases of heart failure every week.
People can increase their risk of developing the condition through; high alcohol intake, lack of exercise, high blood pressure, unhealthy eating and smoking. Age and family history can also be contributory factors.
However, the study reported that 81% of respondents said they have never been tested by a GP for signs of type 2 diabetes, 61% of whom were aged 65 and over.
In addition, 90% of people responding to the study said that they have never been screened to assess their level of risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Dr Josh Cullimore, GP advisor at Bluecrest Health Screening, said: “It is evident from the study that awareness and understanding around the largely preventable type 2 diabetes is worryingly low. This lack of understanding may contribute to the more than 500 people who die prematurely in the UK every week due to the condition.
“There are around 4.7 million people currently diagnosed with diabetes in the UK - with an estimated further 1 million UK adults living with the condition, who are yet to be diagnosed. To put this into perspective the number of people living with this condition is 13 times as many in the UK currently living with cancer.
“It is important that people are properly aware of the potential causes and symptoms of type 2 diabetes, and how their diet or lifestyle choices can potentially increase their risk of developing this conditon.”
Peter Blencowe, Managing Director at Bluecrest Health Screening, said: “There is an education piece to be done surrounding the risks of UK adults developing such serious diseases, both genetic and lifestyle-related.
“By understanding the lifestyle choices that can increase our risk of developing type 2 diabetes, looking after ourselves generally and proactively managing our health, we can hopefully move towards reducing the number of premature deaths that take place every day in the UK.”
The report has been published to coincide with World Diabetes Day on 14th November, organised by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), who are this year urging families to learn more about the warning signs of diabetes and find out their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.