RESEARCHERS have warned that up to a quarter of a million 40 to 70-year-olds are living with undiagnosed diabetes – sparking a call for all adults within the age range to be screened.

Their study was the first of its kind and – using real-world clinical data and the medical records of UK residents – found that just over 1% had undiagnosed diabetes.

The researchers from the University of Exeter are pushing for the scope of people currently being tested for diabetes to be widened.

They want all adults aged between 40 and 70 to be screened.

Nearly 300,000 people in Scotland are currently diagnosed with diabetes, and it is predicted that the number of those living with the condition will only continue to grow.

Current trends predict that in the next decade those figures will almost double.

One of the main concerns of the study is the number of people living with Type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is far more common with up to 90% of all adults with diabetes having Type 2.

It is estimated that 5.2% of the Scottish population, around 45,500 people, are living with Type 2 diabetes but are not aware. This is not unusual as most people who are diagnosed with diabetes are showing no symptoms, as it can take years for symptoms to show.

Rachel Chalmers, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was eight years old, said: “I was always a really healthy child, I was never really ill from what I can remember and I was always playing lots of different sports.

"My parents became concerned when I started drinking a lot more often and needing to go to the toilet a lot more which was unusual for me. Also, I lost a lot of weight. That made me look ill.

“My doctor and the hospital were fantastic, they knew straight away what was wrong with me,  I’d say the only delay would be how long it took my parents to take me to the doctor.

"I wouldn’t say I’ve seen major improvements in my health, once I started using insulin injection my weight went back up and I was much healthier but still the same as I was before I was diagnosed. Now I just need to maintain my blood sugars and eat healthy and exercise.”

But researchers hope that screening could help speed up diagnosis by up to two years.

There is a growing concern that the number of potential diabetes diagnoses could only add to the strain that the NHS is currently under.

Diabetes when untreated will lead to more serious health problems, which will end up costing the NHS a lot more money and resources in the long term.

Complications which could arise from untreated diabetes can include kidney and eye damage and people have a raised risk for heart disease or stroke.

Professor Rory McCrimmon, NHS Research Scotland diabetes lead clinician, said: “The advantage of screening is that you can pick up both diabetes and pre-diabetes where you might be able to get someone into a diabetes prevention or remission program.

"Like anything else, the earlier diagnose it, the earlier you can intervene with lifestyle change, exercise, weight loss, medication. Because people with diabetes are at risk of multiple complications.

“This affects one in 12 of the population, in hospitals it’s one in six and 80% of the costs of diabetes are caused by complications. Its billions of pounds to the NHS every year with 80% of that cost linked to complications. So, if you can prevent it and prevent progression and complications, you could save the NHS a fortune”

Five years ago, the Scottish Government expressed its aim to push for the prevention and early detection of diabetes in its framework for the prevention, early detection and early intervention of Type 2 Diabetes.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “Our overall aim is to reduce people’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and, for those diagnosed, potential avoidance of diabetes-related complications or remission of the condition.

“We are working with NHS Boards and other delivery partners, including Health and Social Care Partnerships, to implement effective options for those ‘at risk’ or those diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes."