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The BBC's James Westhead
"It's easily treated with insulin"
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Monday, 29 May, 2000, 01:38 GMT 02:38 UK
Diabetes 'timebomb' warning
Diabetes injection
Diabetes can be devastating
One million people in the UK are unaware they have diabetes, according to a report.

And three-quarters of those in high risk groups do not know that their health is in potential peril.

The research, by Diabetes UK, reveals widespread ignorance about a condition that can have a devastating impact on health.

At risk groups
Aged over 40
A family history of the condition
From an ethnic minority

The survey also found that less than half of the public (46%) know that diabetes can be fatal.

Four out of five people thought that some forms of diabetes are milder than others - in fact all types can lead to very serious complications.

Diabetes UK is launching a Missing Million campaign to raise awareness of the condition.

It will be backed by a national advertising campaign.

Alarming situation

Chief executive Paul Streets said: "This is an alarming state of affairs. These findings underline the myth that many people believe that diabetes can be a mild condition.

"It is not, diabetes is one of the most serious health issues facing the UK today and if society keeps on ignoring its importance we will be facing a potential health timebomb."

Symptoms of untreated diabetes
Increased thirst
Extreme tiredness
Weight loss
Blurred vision
Genital itching
Desire to go to the toilet regularly

About 1.4 million people in the UK already know they have diabetes - but it is estimated that almost as many again suffer in ignorance.

Untreated diabetes can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, amputations and blindness.

People with diabetes are two to three times more likely to suffer a heart attack compared to people who do not have the condition.

Diabetes is the biggest cause of blindness among adults of working age in the UK.

Diabetes UK is calling on health professionals to make diabetes a priority area.

It says the focus must be on early identification of people with diabetes, and on ensuring uniform high standards of treatment to prevent the onset of complications.

Mr Streets said: "A recent Audit Commission report has highlighted the failings in the care provided for people with diabetes.

"This is symptomatic of the general failure to take diabetes seriously which is even true among some doctors."

The survey was based on interviews with 2,135 adults.

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