A report due to be published next week by leading health charity Diabetes UK confirms that diabetes is one of the biggest health challenges facing the UK.

Diabetes: Beware the silent assassin,reveals that approximately 10 per cent of NHS spending goes on diabetes and its complications.

In the South West, this equates to more than £1.8 million a day. The report also reveals that one in ten people in hospital in the UK have diabetes and 60 per cent of inpatients with diabetes have been admitted as emergencies. Jan Tyrrell, Regional Manager of Diabetes UK South West, said: “Diabetes causes heart disease, stroke, amputations, kidney failure and blindness and causes more deaths than breast and prostate cancer combined. Type 2 diabetes can remain undetected for ten years or more before someone is diagnosed.

"It really is a silent assassin – around 60,000 people in the South West have the condition but do not even know it and by the time they are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes 50 per cent of people are found to have started developing complications.”

Diabetes UK today launches the Silent Assassin campaign to highlight that diabetes is a serious condition and improve awareness of its devastating complications.

The campaign encourages people at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to make urgent changes in their lifestyle. Diabetes UK also wants to ensure that people with Type 1 diabetes or with Type 2 diabetes have access to appropriate care, support and education to help them manage their condition effectively and avoid developing the life-shattering complications of diabetes.

Jan Tyrrell continued: “In many cases the number of deaths caused by diabetes is still under-reported: the death certificate will say heart attack but it was really diabetes.

"We want to prevent thousands of people from facing a future of ill-health and reduced life-expectancy.

"There is still a worrying lack of awareness about diabetes, its risk factors and the simple steps people can take to reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and manage the condition. We believe the hard-hitting messages of the Silent Assassin campaign will help us improve the health of the nation by raising awareness of the seriousness of the condition.”

The campaign messages will be communicated through a series of UK-wide posters as well as newspaper and consumer magazine ads from October 2008.

The number of people with diabetes is rising dramatically, there are currently 250,000 people with the condition (diagnosed and undiagnosed) in the South West and it is estimated that there will be 365,000 people with diabetes by 2025.