Aims: To estimate the total prevalence of diabetes mellitus (diagnosed and undiagnosed) at national, regional and local level in England to support health-care planning and delivery.
Methods: An epidemiological model was constructed by applying age-sex-ethnic-specific reference prevalence rates from epidemiological studies to resident populations (2001 census) of England at national, regional, and local authority/Primary Care Trust levels.
Results: Estimated prevalence of total diabetes for all persons in England was 4.41% in 2001, equating to 2 168 000 persons. Type 2 diabetes was estimated to affect 2 002 000 persons (92.3%) and Type 1 diabetes 166 000 persons (7.7%). Diabetes prevalence was estimated to be higher in women (5.17%) than men (3.61%). People from ethnic minority groups had higher crude prevalence than White Europeans (4.29, 5.69, 6.63 and 2.13% among White Europeans, Black African/Caribbeans, South Asians and 'other' groups, respectively). Prevalence increased sharply with age (0.33, 3.37 and 13.92%, respectively, in those aged 0-29, 30-59 and 60+ years). The model allows use of user-defined population denominator estimates to derive numbers and prevalence of people with diabetes for a given local population group, such as at ward or general practice level.
Conclusions: Self-reported diabetes prevalence estimates from community surveys underestimate the true burden of diabetes. The model can be used to derive the expected total prevalence of diabetes in health areas that lack reliable data to facilitate the implementation of the National Service Framework for diabetes. It will also allow estimates of future diabetes prevalence to be derived, and can potentially be used for prevalence estimates in all of the UK.