A picture of diabetes in Wales

Published 16/11/2015   |   Last Updated 27/05/2021   |   Reading Time minutes

Article by Philippa Watkins and Helen Jones, National Assembly for Wales Research Service

14 November 2015 is World Diabetes Day. Around 180,000 people in Wales are currently being treated for diabetes (over 5% of the total population and around 7% of the adult population).

It’s estimated that a further 70,000 people in Wales have Type 2 diabetes, but are either unaware they have it or haven’t been diagnosed. Another 540,000 are at high risk of developing the condition. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition where the pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin. It’s usually diagnosed in children and young adults. Type 2 diabetes is far more common than Type 1, accounting for around 90% of adults with diabetes. Type 2 is often linked to lifestyle factors. Obesity is the most significant risk factor, and could amount to 80 – 85% of the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. There is growing evidence – and concern - that the rise in childhood obesity has led to an increase in cases of Type 2 diabetes being diagnosed in younger age groups. Deprivation is strongly associated with higher levels of obesity, physical inactivity, smoking and other factors which are linked to people’s risk of diabetes, and their ability to manage the condition and to avoid serious complications. Diabetes costs the NHS in Wales around £500 million each year. This equates to approximately 10% of NHS Wales’ budget. 18% of beds in acute hospitals in Wales are occupied by people with diabetes. Over 90% of these patients have Type 2 diabetes. Further reading: