More than a third of adults are on the cusp of developing type-2 diabetes, figures for England show.
A report in the British Medical Journal highlights an "extremely rapid" rise in pre-diabetes since 2003. The authors predict a surge in type-2 diabetes in the coming years, with consequences for life expectancy and disability. The charity Diabetes UK said the NHS was already spending one-tenth of its budget on the condition.
People with pre-diabetes have no symptoms of ill health, but their blood sugar levels are at the very high end of the normal range - on the cusp of diabetes. Between 5% and 10% of people with pre-diabetes go on to develop type-2 diabetes each year, the researchers said. Their study looked at Health Survey for England data between 2003 and 2011. In 2003, 11.6% of adults surveyed had pre-diabetes, but the figures trebled to 35.3% by 2011.
Prof Richard Baker, one of the report's authors from the University of Leicester, told the BBC: "The level of increased diabetes risk has gone up quite steeply, it has been rising in other countries, but it has leapt up faster in England than in the US - it's a big jump really. "A lot of people with type-2 diabetes manage their condition very well, but some are unlucky and get severe consequences quickly, it's not a nice disease to have."
Fellow researcher Dr Arch Mainous, from the University of Florida, added: "I think the huge rise was surprising, it was substantial. "People are going to transition from these high-risk states to diabetes and there will be a lot of implications for people being sick and healthcare costs."
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