By Sam Blanchard Senior Health Reporter For Mailonline
Published: 10:23 GMT, 7 November 2019 | Updated: 10:34 GMT, 7 November 2019
Prescription medicines for diabetes cost the English NHS £1.075billion last year, figures revealed today.
The mammoth cost is the highest bill ever, a £60million rise from the year before and almost double the £650m the health service spent in 2010.
Diabetes is the most expensive condition the NHS has to treat, partly because at least 4.7million people in the UK – approximately one in every 14 – have it.
The costs are spread across insulin, diagnostic devices and blood sugar monitors, antidiabetic drugs and medications to treat people with hypoglycaemia.
And the true cost of the condition is far higher because diabetes causes numerous other conditions, with many patients suffering strokes or needing amputations.
Experts have blamed the country's expanding waistlines and unhealthy lifestyles for an epidemic of type 2 diabetes and putting millions more people at risk.
The health service last year spent almost £1.1billion on prescriptions for insulin, antidiabetic medications and treatment of hypoglycaemia – its highest diabetes bill ever (stock image)
The medications which have triggered the biggest rise in cost are antidiabetic drugs – oral medicines used to lower someone's blood sugar.
These cost NHS England more than twice as much as they did in 2008/09, with the cost rising from £168million to £540million in 2018/19.
Insulin, meanwhile, only costs 22.5 per cent more than it did a decade ago. The cost of the hormone has risen from £288m to £353m.
When the NHS breached the £1billion spending barrier for the first time ever last year, one charity boss said diabetes was the UK's biggest health threat.
Growing numbers of overweight and obese people are contributing to the rise in diabetes.
Some 90 per cent of diabetes cases are type 2, which can be triggered by obesity, eating too much sugar, and not doing enough exercise.
The combination of these factors means the body is taking in high levels of sugar – which is used as energy for muscles – but cannot use it because people don't move enough.
When the body has more sugar than it can handle it produces signals which reduce how much of it is absorbed from the blood, which can lead to insulin resistance – a diabetes trigger.
People in the UK are getting fatter than ever – data from October revealed 4.2 per cent of 10 to