A new campaign is aiming to raise awareness of the risk of diabetes in younger people across the West Midlands.
More than 16,300 people aged under 40 are currently registered as living with type 2 diabetes.
Analysis of NHS data by Diabetes UK and commercial partner Tesco has shown that cases are now rising at a faster rate among the younger generation, with registered cases up 23% in the age group in five years.
The charity predicts that the number of people in the UK aged between 18 and 39 living with the condition could hit 200,000 by 2027.
New research revealed that people aged under 40 in the West Midlands were “generally unaware” of many of the symptoms of diabetes or the complications it can lead to.
Chris Askew, chief executive at Diabetes UK, said: “This trend of rapidly-increasing early-onset type 2 diabetes is incredibly troubling.
“It marks a shift from what we’ve seen historically and should be taken as a serious warning to policymakers and our NHS.
“If you’re under 40, you’re not immune to type 2 diabetes. It is vital that you check your risk now and that individuals, no matter what their age or background, are given the opportunity to access support to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes.”
Ahead of World Diabetes Day on 14th November, a new online risk assessment tool has been launched by Diabetes UK and Tesco to help raise awareness of the condition.
Shannon Ball, 26, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 16.
She said: “I know how overwhelming a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can be for a younger person – I’ve lived through it – and I also know how difficult it can be to know where to go for support or advice if you’re worried about your health.
“I’m proof that with the right advice and support around you, it’s possible to feel more in control of your health. I hope this campaign shows people who are worried about their risk of type 2 diabetes that the help is there and gives them the confidence to go out and get it.”