ANOTHER sharp increase in the number of people diagnosed with diabetes has prompted warnings of an ‘unfolding public health disaster’.

And East Lancashire health campaigner Gordon Dixon has called for more awareness of the condition, saying there will be many more who suffer from it without realising.

According to research by Diabetes UK, there were 74,885 people in Lancashire with diabetes last year, up from 73,384 in 2012.

This means nearly eight per cent of people suffer from the condition, compared to the national average of six per cent.

Diabetes UK has called the Lancashire figures ‘alarming’ and said there needs to be better prevention methods.

Mr Dixon, who is chairman of the charity’s Ribble Valley branch, said: “This increase is largely down to type 2 diabetes, which is caused by obesity and unhealthy lifestyles.

“We need to try to catch people early so they can start to manage their condition themselves by changing their diet and excercise habits, which will save the NHS money in the long run.

“I was diagnosed when I was 30, but it was about 15 years before I went on insulin because I was able to manage it myself.

“We’ve now got 3.2 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK, but there will be another 800,000 or so who are undiagnosed.”

New NHS data showed there were 163,000 new diagnoses in the UK last year, the biggest annual increase since 2008.

Baroness Young, the charity’s chief executive, said: “The big increase in the number of people with diabetes confirms that we are in the middle of an unfolding public health disaster that demands urgent action.”

Type 2 diabetes develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly.

Insulin enables the body to use sugar as energy and store any excess in the liver and muscle. If this fails, blood sugar rises and this can cause long-term complications, such as kidney damage.

The NHS spends about 10 per cent of its budget on diabetes, with most of this going on treating the consequences such as amputation, kidney failure, heart disease and stroke.