5 June 2015

A medical expert at St George’s (University of London) has warned employers that they face a growing problem, as new research shows that 35.3% of people aged over 16 in England now have prediabetes.

This is a condition that is reversible through lifestyle and diet change but precedes the onset of incurable Type 2 diabetes. According to a report in the British Medical Journal, as recently as 2003, the percentage was 11.6%.

Professor Stephen Nussey, an endocrinologist and diabetologist at St George’s, said: "Prediabetes is a ticking time-bomb for businesses in the UK. Employers that are able to provide support to their staff can help to reduce this risk. A workforce that makes sensible decisions about diet and lifestyle now can reduce the prevalence of diabetes in the years to come."

The research, based on data collected from the Health Survey for England, indicates that the cost of absence from work through both prediabetes and Type 2 diabetes is set to rise sharply unless action is taken.

The CEO of Stanford Burgess Health, David Burgess, has urged responsible employers to consider the benefits of taking early action. His company has developed a programme to encourage individuals to adopt healthier lifestyles.

Claiming that the programme is self-financing — as it can save large employers millions of pounds in reduced absenteeism, increased productivity and positive employee engagement — Mr Burgess pointed out that "healthier employees make healthier companies" and the prevention of Type 2 diabetes also prevents a wide range of other cardiovascular conditions.