URGENT action is needed to stop diabetes from ‘silently destroying’ the Asian communities of East Lancashire, MPs have warned.

Cases of type 2 diabetes among people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds have increased by 20per cent since 2009, according to research by the Diabetes in BME Communities Working Group.

Nationally, there have been about 37,000 new cases each year.

While diagnoses have also increased in people from white backgrounds, this rise is significantly smaller, at 14per cent.

The group is keen to raise awareness of the findings in areas with large BME populations, such as Blackburn, where about a third of residents are from an Asian background.

More than 10per cent of the population in the rest of East Lancashire are Asian.

The figures were released alongside the launch of a new report in the House of Commons, which recommended that NHS commissioners seek to raise awareness and underst-anding in BME communities, by providing culturally-sensitive dietary advice, and through targeting the NHS health check at people from the age of 25 onwards.

People from South Asian backgrounds are six times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, which is linked to Western diet and minimal exercise, compared to people in the white population.

The illness causes problems with the kidneys, legs and feet, eyes and heart and, if left untreated, can lead to kidney failure, amputation, blindness, or a stroke.

Virendra Sharma, the group’s chairman, said: “The increasing prevalence of type 2 diab-etes in BME communities is reaching a critical stage.

“Diabetes is silently destroying our communities, and we are still not doing enough to stop it.

“Many people from South Asian, black African and black African Caribbean communities are not aware of their increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and we know that delays in seeking help can lead to more complications, and increased costs for the NHS.

“We need to help local doctors and nurses to raise awareness of the risks of developing type 2 diabetes, and implement services that recognise the specific needs of different BME groups.”