The annual Scottish Diabetes Survey, published today, shows 247,278 Scots are living with the condition – or around one in 20.
The number of sufferers is growing by 10,000 per year, the survey found, and the vast majority of sufferers (88%) have type 2 diabetes which is linked to lifestyle and age.
The annual bill for treating the condition is around £300 million a year with Chief Medical Officer Sir Harry Burns yesterday stressing the need to prevent the disease. He said: "The Scottish Diabetes Survey highlights the increasing number of people with diabetes that is directly related to the ageing of the population and unhealthy lifestyle factors such as obesity. Stopping smoking, eating better and taking regular exercise is something we can all do to make sure we are as healthy as possible."
A total of 55.4% of those with type 2 diabetes whose body mass index had been recorded were classed as being obese while 31.7% were overweight.
Diabetes is a long-term health condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is too high. If left untreated it can cause many health problems, as large amounts of glucose can damage blood vessels, nerves and organs.
Jane-Claire Judson, director of Diabetes UK, said the "relentless rise" in people with the disease showed "diabetes deserves immediate attention as a major public health concern".
She added: "Meeting the challenge of diabetes requires the NHS, Government and society overall to take action to improve our nation's health, and together we need to ensure those already diagnosed have the best support and care available."
A new website will allow diabetics to view their clinical results and treatment advice online, in what doctors say is a world first. It is designed to allow people to manage their diabetes and ward off complications.
Public Health Minister Michael Matheson said: "Now everyone living with diabetes in Scotland has the opportunity to view their own clinical diabetes data online. And by having access to the right information, people can be supported to self-manage and radically reduce the risk of developing complications and serious health problems.
"I strongly encourage people living with diabetes to sign up and see for themselves how this valuable resource can [help them] self-manage their condition. Not only will it mean they can live longer, healthier lives, it will protect NHS resources."
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: "We need to see much earlier intervention to tackle obesity and help people lead healthier lives."
Jackson Carlaw, health spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: "Worringly, this is another indication that Scotland still has a long way to go if we are to see improvements in people's diet and activity levels."
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