Almost one in 70 people in the UK are living with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes and so are missing out on vital health checks, according to Diabetes UK.
According to analysis to mark the start of Diabetes Week,one person on a full double decker bus would be likely to have an undiagnosed case of the condition.
With an estimated 850,000 cases of undiagnosed cases of Type 2 diabetes in the UK, about one in every 74 has an undiagnosed case of the condition. This means that most people will have a friend or family member who has the condition but does not know it.
Diabetes UK is urging people to get risk assessed to find out if they are at high risk, because the longer it is left untreated, the greater the risk of devastating complications such as amputation, blindness, kidney failure and stroke.
At the moment, people with Type 2 diabetes are being diagnosed worryingly late, with about half of people with the condition already having signs of complications by the time they are diagnosed.
To help identify people who are at high risk, Diabetes UK and Bupa have launched a series of healthy lifestyle roadshows that will visit 50 locations over the next few months.
The roadshow teams will refer people who are at high risk to their GP. This will mean that people who have the condition can be diagnosed and those who do not have it but are at high risk can be given the advice and support to help prevent it.
Diabetes UK chief executive Barbara Young said: “When you consider the potentially devastating health consequences of Type 2 diabetes, it is shocking that so many people have the condition and do not know it. These figures show that every time we walk down our local high street, we are likely to be walking past people who have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.
“This is a real concern because it is only by getting the condition diagnosed early that people can start getting the treatment they need to prevent serious health complications, including blindness, amputation, kidney failure and stroke. Getting these people diagnosed is a race against time and unfortunately it is a race we are all too often losing.
“We are also encouraging people to talk to their friends and family about Type 2 diabetes. Making them aware that someone can have it for a number of years without realising it could be the vital first step towards someone being diagnosed and getting the healthcare that can give them the best chance of a long and healthy life.”
Risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include being overweight, having a large waist and being physically inactive. Older people and people from a black or South Asian background are also at higher risk, as are people with a family history.