Diabetes: key points

  • The most recent Scottish Diabetes Survey (2014) estimates that there were 276,430 people with a diagnosis of diabetes in Scotland at the end of 2013, a crude prevalence of 5.2% (compared to 5.1% in 2013).
  • Diabetes is an important cause of disability and increases the risk of coronary heart disease and other health problems. It is more common in deprived areas.
  • Type 1 diabetes often starts at a young age and is due to a lack of insulin. It accounts for 10-15% of all cases of diabetes (10.8% in Scotland in 2014). Type 2 diabetes starts with resistance to the action of insulin and is associated with older age, overweight and obesity.
  • The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is increasing rapidly in Scotland, as in many other countries.
  • Part of this increase is likely to be due to increased levels of awareness of diabetes among health professionals and the public and more complete recording of diagnoses of diabetes as a result of improved information systems.
  • However, the largest part of the increase in type 2 diabetes is likely to be due to poor diet (specifically excess energy intake), low levels of physical activity and the resulting increase in levels of obesity. Type 2 diabetes is much more common at older ages and the increase in the number of older people in Scotland also contributes to the increase in numbers of those with diabetes.
  • In addition, it is thought that many cases of diabetes remain undiagnosed.
  • The annual Scottish Diabetes Survey is improving in quality and completeness and is an increasingly important source of information about diagnosed diabetes in Scotland. The most recent survey (2014) is available from the publications section of the Diabetes in Scotland website.

Key statistics:

Number of new cases diagnosed in 2014 n/a n/a 17,262
Crude prevalence in 20141 n/a n/a 5.2%
Number of deaths in 20142 2,676 2,386 5,062
% people surviving 5 years after diagnosis n/a n/a n/a
Lifetime risk of developing (all ages) n/a n/a n/a
Lifetime risk of developing (from age 50) n/a n/a n/a

Note: n/a - not available.

(1) Source: Scottish Diabetes Survey (2014). It is recognised that this may be an underestimate of the true prevalence.

(2) Source: ISD linked database (using deaths data supplied by the National Records of Scotland). The figures are for deaths where there was any mention of diabetes.

Section updates:

  • The last major update of this section was completed in March 2016.
  • The next major update is due to be carried out by end December 2016.