Shock warning after alarming rise in cases of type 2 diabetes in under 40s

November 7, 2022

Shock warning after alarming rise in cases of type 2 diabetes in under 40s

​Diabetes UK and Tesco campaign aims to help 1 million people understand their risk of type 2 diabetes and get support to prevent or delay the disease
New analysis shows 23% increase in recorded cases of type 2 diabetes in under-40s in five years
Partners warn that the number of cases in under 40s could rise to more than 200,000 in five years
A leading charity is calling on more people to check their type 2 diabetes risk using a free online tool, as shocking new figures show an alarming increase in diagnoses in younger age groups in the UK.

The analysis of NHS data, carried out by long-standing partners Diabetes UK and Tesco, has revealed that cases of type 2 diabetes – traditionally associated with older people – are now rising faster among those under 40 than those over 40. With the number of recorded cases of type 2 diabetes in this age group rising by 23% in just five years, the charity predicts that the number of people aged 18-39 living with a diagnosis could rise to 200,000 by 2027.

A new study commissioned by Diabetes UK and Tesco shows that people under 40 are generally unaware of many of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes or the devastating complications the condition can lead to.

The study also sheds light on the impact of the cost-of-living crisis. More than half of respondents (57%) said they’ve put their health on hold as a direct result of the current crisis, with nearly a quarter (23%) saying they’ve avoided or put off medical checkups.

The UK survey of people aged 18-39 also found that they were neglecting their health:

A disturbing 68% didn’t know how to check if they were at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) didn’t know or were unsure of the symptoms of type 2 diabetes, raising concerns that cases may go undetected.
Few knew that amputations (35%), strokes (30%), and depression (26%) were possible complications of type 2 diabetes.
In response, Diabetes UK and Tesco are launching a campaign to get one million people to better understand their individual risk of type 2 diabetes by using Diabetes UK’s free online Know Your Risk tool or visiting their local Tesco pharmacy. Anyone who makes an assessment using the tool will be directed to free advice and information to help them manage their risk.

The campaign is taking place ahead of World Diabetes Day on November 14. As well as launching an online risk assessment and support in Tesco pharmacies, Tesco has also developed a range of healthy and budget-friendly recipes available on the Tesco Real Food website. This is in addition to Tesco’s existing commitments to make healthy food more accessible to its customers. Last year, Tesco committed to increase healthy food sales to 65% by 2025 and make its products healthier through new recipes.

Shock warning after alarming rise in cases of type 2 diabetes in under 40s

Shannon Ball, 26, is from Halifax and was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 16. She said:

“I know how overwhelming a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can be for a young person – I’ve experienced it myself – and I also know how difficult it can be to know where to turn when you’re worried about your health. That’s why I want to help as many people as possible understand their risk for type 2 diabetes and find the support they need.

“I’m proof that with the right advice and support, you can take better control of your health. I hope this campaign shows people who’re worried about their type 2 diabetes risk that help is available and gives them the confidence to get it.”

Chris Askew OBE is chief executive of Diabetes UK. He said:

“This trend of type 2 diabetes appearing earlier and earlier is extremely worrying. It marks a change from the past and should be taken as a serious warning to policy makers and our NHS.

“If you’re under 40, you aren’t immune to type 2 diabetes. It’s vital that you review your risk now and that people, whatever their age or background, are given the opportunity to access support to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes.

“We’re very grateful to Tesco for supporting this important campaign and hope that it’ll lead to very many people under 40 taking this important first step and checking their risk of type 2 diabetes


Jason Tarry is CEO, UK & ROI at Tesco. He said:

“Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common diseases we face in the UK, but many cases could be prevented or delayed. And we know that a healthy diet is one of the ways to reduce risk.

“In these challenging times, we want to make it easier for families to eat excitingly, healthily and affordably, so that even when time and money are tight, healthy eating never seems out of reach. With 373 Tesco pharmacies across the country serving half a million people every week, our pharmacists can also provide expert support and advice. As part of a long-standing partnership with Diabetes UK, we’re urging people to do the following