Press release

3.8 million people in England now have diabetes

New data from PHE reveals 3.8 million people in England aged over 16 had diabetes in 2015, around 9% of the adult population.

The new Diabetes Prevalence Model, produced by the Public Health England (PHE) National Cardiovascular Intelligence Network (NCVIN) and launched today at the PHE Conference at Warwick University, estimates the total number of adults with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes in England.

Whilst 3.8 million people are estimated to have both types of diabetes, approximately 90% of diabetes cases are Type 2; this is largely preventable or manageable by lifestyle changes and also provides additional benefits for health and wellbeing. The likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes is increased by being overweight (although family history, ethnicity and age can also increase risk).

The figures reiterate that diabetes is an increasing burden of ill health, underlining the need for urgent action to lessen the impact on individuals, as well as the health and social care system supporting them.

The model suggests that 1 in 4 people with diabetes, an estimated 940,000, are unaware of their condition. The disease can lead to serious complications including foot amputation and kidney disease, and is associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

John Newton, Chief Knowledge Officer at PHE, said:

The number of people with diabetes has been steadily increasing and tackling it is fundamental to the sustainable future of the NHS. Diabetes can be an extremely serious disease for those that have it and treating it and its complications costs the NHS almost £10 billion a year. Developing Type 2 diabetes is not an inevitable part of aging, we have an opportunity through public health to reverse this trend and safeguard the health of the nation and the future of the NHS.

The proportion of people who have diabetes increases with age: 9% of people aged 45 to 54 have diabetes, but for over 75s it is 23.8%. Diabetes at older ages has even bigger health implications as people are more likely to be suffering from other diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases.

Diabetes is more common in men (9.6% compared with 7.6% women) and people from south Asian and black ethnic groups are nearly twice as likely to have the disease compared with people from white, mixed or other ethnic groups, (15.2% compared to 8.0%).

Based on current population trends, by 2035 4.9 million people will have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes currently costs the NHS £8.8 billion each year and tackling the rise in the disease is vital to the sustainable future of the health service.

To help tackle the problem, the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP) was launched by PHE, NHS England and Diabetes UK earlier this year. The programme, now available to nearly half the country, will help those at high risk of Type 2 diabetes reduce their risk of developing the condition, by being offered a referral to an improved diet, weight loss and increased physical activity programme. The NHS DPP will have full coverage across England by 2020. By then, up to 100,000 people will have access to its services each year.

Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme Director, Jenifer Smith, said:

Whilst the extent of the problem is greater than ever, the good news is that Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable. Our prevention programme puts people in control of their health by giving them the tools and information they need to make small changes to their lifestyles to significantly reduce their risk of the disease and the potential complications associated with it like stroke and kidney failure.

Chris Askew, Chief Executive of Diabetes UK, said:

These new estimates clearly show the scale of diabetes and the huge impact on people living with the condition. Too often they only find out they have the disease after they have developed serious complications, such as heart or kidney disease, or foot problems which can lead to amputations. Avoiding or delaying such devastating complications depends on people getting diagnosed earlier, so they get help and support to manage their condition well. We urge people over 40 to attend their NHS Health Check when invited. We also want people to take the necessary steps to find out their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, such as using Diabetes UK’s online Know Your Risk tool.

Alongside the NHS DPP, there are other healthcare programmes aimed at supporting adults to live healthily. The NHS Health Check, provides health advice to 40 to 74 year olds previously undiagnosed any condition. It checks circulatory and vascular health, the risk of ill health and provides advice and support to help lower risk and improve health. Earlier this year, PHE launched One You, a campaign to support adults across the country to avoid future diseases caused by modern day lifestyles. It provides a range of tools and advice to help people take action on everyday behaviours such as eating too much unhealthy food or continuing to smoke, all of which are major contributing factors to lifestyle related diseases like Type 2 diabetes.


For broadcast or interview opportunities please call Naomi Ramage on 020 3682 0132 or Dominic Stanley on 020 7654 8039. For Diabetes UK interviews please contact Gabriel Roberts on 020 7424 1064.

Diabetes prevalence data

The diabetes prevalence data was produced by the NCVIN, a group of cardiovascular experts co-ordinated by PHE.

The diabetes prevalence model provides estimates of total (diagnosed and undiagnosed) diabetes prevalence for people aged 16 years and over in England.

The model was developed using data from the latest 3 years of Health Surveys for England (HSE), 2012, 2013 and 2014. The estimates take into account the age, sex, and ethnic group distribution, as well as deprivation of the area. Estimates are provided for both the resident and GP registered populations.

The model is available online:

The 2016 PHE model uses a different methodology and more up-to-date data sources including population estimates. In addition, it has been determined that the previous model published in 2012 under-estimated undiagnosed diabetes so that the overall prevalence estimates were probably low.

Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme

The Healthier You: NHS DPP is a joint commitment from NHS England, PHE and Diabetes UK, to deliver evidence-based behaviour change interventions at scale to people at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to support them in reducing their risk. People are offered a referral onto the programme through 2 routes; either through their NHS Health Check appointment (which is offered to men and women aged 40 to 74 who have no other existing cardiovascular health issues), or through identification from GP records.

For more information about the programme, visit

NHS Health Check

The NHS Health Check invites people between 40 and 74 years old every 5 years for an appointment, as long as they do not have an existing vascular condition. For more information on the NHS Health Check visit

One You

More information about One You and the How Are You? quiz can be found here:


Diabetes refers to a condition where the amount of glucose in your blood is too high. There are 2 main types of diabetes:

  • Type 1 diabetes develops when the body is unable to produce any insulin
  • Type 2 diabetes develops when the body is unable to produce enough insulin or the body’s cells don’t react to insulin

The diabetes prevalence model does not make a distinction between the type of diabetes.

Diabetes symptoms

Visit your GP as soon as possible if you experience the main symptoms of diabetes, which include:

  • feeling very thirsty
  • urinating more frequently than usual, particularly at night
  • feeling very tired
  • weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
  • itching around the penis or vagina, or frequent episodes of thrush
  • cuts or wounds that heal slowly
  • blurred vision

Type 1 diabetes can develop quickly over weeks or even days. Many people have Type 2 diabetes for years without realising because the early symptoms tend to be general. For more information on recognising the signs of diabetes, visit

About PHE

The PHE Annual Conference is taking place at the University of Warwick from Tuesday 13 September to Wednesday 14 September 2016. The theme of this year’s conference is Evidence into Action, promoting and showcasing the latest advances and knowledge in science and research, and implementation for impact.

Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Follow us on Twitter: @PHE_uk and Facebook:

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