Diabetes expert Melanie Davies said more people under 40 are being diagnosed with diabetes
Experts say the spike in cases creates a time-bomb for the NHS which spends 10 per cent of its budget on treatment.
Forty-eight per cent of patients diagnosed in the past 12 months are in the age group.
Of those, 42 per cent say they could have prevented Type 2 if they were healthier and a similar number were unaware it could lead to serious conditions such as stroke and heart disease.
In the Lloyds Pharmacy survey of 2,000 adults, half have diabetes.
There are around four million people living with the condition in the UK, the majority with Type 2.
A further 12 million are at risk.
Yesterday, Professor Melanie Davies of the Leicester Diabetes Centre, said: “We have been highlighting this issue for the past five years.
There are increasing numbers diagnosed at a younger age with Type 2.
“Not only are the numbers under 40 increasing, they have a poorer prognosis and more severe and rapidly developing complications. We now have children with T2 diabetes in the clinic.
“We are facing the prospect of these younger people being outlived by their parents, which is very depressing.”
Diabetes costs the country more than £10billion a year, with a diagnosis every two minutes, largely due to a sugar snacks obsession.
The prevalence of diabetes is rocketing to a number three times that of all cancers.
A decade ago, no child had Type 2 but there are now more than 500 with an aggressive variant.
Nine in 10 sufferers are overweight or obese.
Those with the condition are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack and more than three times as likely to have kidney disease.
Jenny Hirst, co-founder of the charity InDependent Diabetes Trust, said: “It is extremely worrying.
“This evidence suggests reducing sugar content in food and drink should be mandatory for industry and not voluntary.”
Ms Meer argues that education on weight, health and exercise should be started earlier
Comment by Maggie Meer
Having been a fully paid-up member of the diabetes community for 14 years, these numbers do not surprise me but they sadden me.
We already know that Type 2 diabetes is commonly associated with poor lifestyle and can be avoided through a combination of diet, exercise and education but, sadly, it seems the younger generation have missed out on being told these vital health tips.
Education is a key way to drive down spiralling Type 2, which is why I founded DPC, as it meets an increasing need for accessible education among doctors, nurses, GPs, dieticians and educators.
There is a lot of attention and funding to tackle obesity in the older generation but these figures clearly show there is an urgent need to target younger people.
I strongly believe education about weight, health and exercise needs to be started a lot earlier.
Parents of small children aren’t receiving enough of the information and support they need to understand how serious Type 2 is.
There is clearly a huge push to improve care.
Now, I want to see the medical profession communicate the findings from all the research so children, parents, families, teenagers and those in their 30s can make crucial decisions before it’s too late.