Obesity threatens to bankrupt the NHS as prescriptions for diabetes hit a record £1.075 billion a year, say experts
One pound in every eight spent on prescriptions in England in 2018/19 was for diabetes — more than any other illness.
This is up from a £650 million bill from a decade ago and covers things such as insulin, testing strips and anti-diabetic drugs.
Around 4.7 million Brits are thought to be living with diabetes, including a million undiagnosed.
Some nine in ten have obesity-linked Type 2.
Obesity has increased by 92 per cent since the 1990s, with 64 per cent of Brits overweight or obese.
Doctors prescribed 1,099 million items last year, of which 55 million were for diabetics, the NHS Digital figures show.
Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: “These figures are staggering and will inevitably rise until a government begins seriously to tackle obesity, the major cause of Type 2 diabetes.
“This is a national crisis that could even bankrupt the NHS.”
Prof Jonathan Valabhji, from NHS England, said: “This new data is another reminder of the urgent need to prevent Type 2 from developing in the first place through healthier lifestyles.”
Bake Off’s Paul Hollywood sparked fury last month when he described dessert Gateau St Honoré as “diabetes on a plate”.
Viewers pointed out not all diabetics have the disease because they are fat or have poor diets. Hollywood later apologised.
Helen Dickens, of Diabetes UK, said the condition is responsible for 26,000 early deaths a year.
She added: “around 80 per cent of the annual cost of diabetes to the NHS goes on managing complications like stroke, blindness or amputation.
“The answer is to prevent their onset not cut spend on medications.”