More people were diagnosed with diabetes last year in North, East and West (NEW) Devon than anywhere else in the South West.

New figures released by the charity Diabetes UK show 51,087 people in the NEW Devon area have now been diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes.

This accounts for 6.77 per cent of the population - which is higher than the national average of 6.6 per cent.

The number of people in the UK diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled in the last 20 years.

Diabetes UK estimates nine in 10 diabetes cases are type 2, and the major cause of this in preventable cases is obesity.

Steve Sanger, head coach at Reform Training Nutrition Health in Barnstaple, sees a lot of clients with early onset symptoms of diabetes.

“Being overweight is one of the major causes of type 2 diabetes,” he said.

“One of the main reasons for this is an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise.

“A lot of people think they have to join a gym or do ridiculously hard workouts but actually it’s the little, everyday things that make a difference.

“Just going for a daily walk, trying to increase your steps and being consistent with it can have a huge impact.”

According to Diabetes UK, three in five women and two in three men are overweight or obese.

More than one in five children (22 per cent) are overweight or obese in their first year of primary school in England.

This increases to more than one in three (34 per cent) by the time they leave primary school.

Annika Palmer, Diabetes UK south west regional head, said: “Unless we act, and urgently, diabetes prevalence will continue to rise.

“Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are serious conditions that can lead to devastating complications such as amputation, blindness, kidney disease, stroke and heart disease if people don’t receive the right care.

“Type 1 diabetes isn’t currently preventable, but three in five cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with a healthy lifestyle and better understanding of the condition.

“We need to end the marketing of unhealthy food to children and make sure the food all of us eat is healthier.

“More people who are at high risk of Type 2 diabetes must be identified so that they can get the education, care and support they need to reduce it.

“We have to take action now so that we can live in a world where fewer people have diabetes in the future.”

Have you recently been diagnosed with diabetes and are willing to tell your story? If so we’d like to hear from you. Contact reporter Sarah Howells on