There are now 4.05 million people in the UK with diabetes, a condition that causes high blood sugar levels and can lead to life-threatening complications.
Diabetes UK - who used GP patient data to estimate the number - say there are now 4.05 million people with diabetes in the UK.
The figure includes 3.5 million adults diagnosed with diabetes - nearly 200,000 more than 12 months ago and 65% more than 10 years ago - and an estimated 590,000 people who have type 2 diabetes but do not know it, notes the charity.
Diabetes UK say the country faces an urgent need for adequate diabetes care.
As the number of people living with diabetes in the UK continues to climb, they warn that the need for the National Health Service (NHS) to provide adequate diabetes care and education is more important than ever.
Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, calls for the UK government to lead a "concerted effort" to address the fact nearly two thirds of the UK population is overweight or obese and thus at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. He urges:
"Basic measures such as making healthy food cheaper and more accessible, introducing clearer food labelling and making it easier for people to build physical activity into their daily lives would have a profound influence."
Diabetes develops when blood sugar or glucose cannot enter the body's cells to be used as fuel. This happens when either there is no insulin (type 1 diabetes) or when insulin is insufficient or not working properly (type 2 diabetes). This results in high blood sugar levels that can cause life-threatening complications.
Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that helps unlock the body's cells so they can use glucose from digested food as fuel.
Type 1 diabetes accounts for about 10% of diabetes in adults and is the most common form in children.
Type 2 diabetes accounts for the vast majority of diabetes cases and usually appears in adulthood - mostly after the age of 40 - however it is becoming more common in younger groups, including children and teenagers.
'Diabetes care in the NHS is poor'
Some of the risk factors for type 2 diabetes - such as age, ethnic background or family history - cannot be changed. But there are also many lifestyle factors - such as keeping to a healthy weight, following a healthy diet and being physically active - that can reduce risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
In a recent report, the National Audit Office said diabetes care "in the NHS is poor, with low achievement of treatment standards, high numbers of avoidable deaths."
Diabetes UK say if this is not improved, then more people living with diabetes in the UK will experience preventable complications such as blindness, kidney failure and amputation.
Over 24,000 people a year in the UK are dying before their time because of diabetes. These deaths could be prevented, says the charity, because - for example - only 60% of people living with diabetes receive recommended health checks that can identify problems early enough to prevent diabetes-related complications.
The charity also lists other possible reasons for early diabetes-related deaths, such as the fact that over a third of areas in England do not commission diabetes education courses, and there is consistently poor hospital care. The charity notes:
"This is despite clear evidence that improving care would help avoid health complications that, as well as being personally devastating, account for 80% of the NHS' £10 billion annual spend on diabetes."
Charity members also say there is a need for delivery of good quality diabetes care to be the same everywhere and not dependent of where people live.
'Diabetes education should be readily available everywhere'
Diabetes UK also urge for diabetes education to be readily available everywhere and delivered in a way that people with diabetes understand how their health and lives could improve through attending an education program. The programs must be well run and commissioned with a proper local system that explains the benefits clearly, they add.
Chris Askew says that with a record number of people in the UK now living with diabetes, there is no time to waste in getting serious about ensuring they receive better diabetes care and education. He concludes:
"Until this happens, the rising number of people with diabetes will continue to be denied the best chance of living long and healthy lives and the NHS will continue to be crippled under avoidable but escalating costs of treating poorly managed diabetes."
The new figures suggest around 8% of adults in the UK are currently suffering from diabetes. This compares with over 9% in the US, where every year, around 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes.
Congress and President Obama have recently passed legislation to boost funding for important diabetes research and prevention programs in the US. This includes a doubling of funding for a National Diabetes Prevention Program to $20 million.
Meanwhile, Medical News Today recently learned that higher-than-normal blood sugar levels found in people with prediabetes may cause kidney damage.