THE number of under-40s with diabetes has rocketed by a third in 20 years as a result of the obesity crisis.
Younger adults now make up 12.5 per cent of cases compared to 9.5 per cent in 2000, a study shows.
Experts warn those in the age group are more likely to be fat, have poor blood-sugar control and high bad cholesterol.
Researchers also found new diagnoses of Type 2 diabetes in those aged 41 to 50 went up from 14 per cent to 17.5 across the two decades.
The findings by Australian scientists looking at 340,000 new NHS cases were presented at an annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Barcelona.
Professor Sanjoy Ketan Paul, from Melbourne University, said inactivity, poor diet and obesity are fuelling the rise in young adults with the condition.
“We need to pick up cases earlier and treat them more intensively.”
There are 3.7million Brits with diabetes — double the number from two decades ago.
Experts estimate a million more are unaware they have the disease, taking the true total closer to 5 million.
Last month, The Sun teamed up with The Low Carb Program to publish a revolutionary eating plan aimed at combating type 2 diabetes.
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Dr Faye Riley, from Diabetes UK, said: “Type 2 diabetes is serious, and this research stresses the particularly dangerous nature of the condition in those diagnosed at a younger age.
“So with numbers rising…we have to stop this upward trend and the potentially devastating consequences.
A spokesperson for the NHS said: “Families and other parts of society must step up as part of what needs to be a concerted effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic.”
What is type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is the more common form of the disease – accounting for between 85 and 95 per cent of all cases, according to Diabetes UK.
It develops when the insulin-producing cells in the body are unable to produce enough insulin.
It can also be triggered when the insulin that is produced doesn’t work properly.