More than £25 million a year is being spent on drugs to treat diabetics across Sussex.

New figures show the county’s GPs issued 1.2 million prescriptions in one year and the number is rising.

Health experts warn Sussex’s growing obesity crisis needs to be tackled to help cut the number of diabetics and reduce the cost of expensive treatment.

Obesity and its health-related problems, including diabetes, is estimated to cost the NHS in Sussex more than £460 million a year. Nationally, it is believed to be one of the biggest potential crises facing the NHS.

The latest figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre reveal that 166,609 prescriptions were issued in Brighton and Hove between April 2013 and the end of March 2014, at a cost of £3.16 million.

In East Sussex, there were 424,574 prescriptions, costing £8.3 million, while GPs in West Sussex issued 609,341 prescriptions at a cost of £13.6 million.

Overall, the cost of prescriptions for diabetes drugs rose by more than 3% across Sussex compared with the year before.

It takes up about 9% of the budget for all prescribed drugs.

There are an estimated 100,000 people with diabetes in Sussex.

Brighton and Hove City Council health promotions specialist David Brindley said: “Type 2 diabetes occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal blood glucose level or the body is unable to use the insulin that is produced. Abdominal obesity may cause fat cells to release chemicals which can make the body less sensitive to the insulin it produces “Obesity may also trigger changes to the body’s metabolism that can lead to failure to control blood glucose levels.

“Some people are more likely to become overweight or obese than others.

“The environment we live in, income, social deprivation, age, ethnicity and other biological differences all have an important impact on the likelihood of becoming obese.

“There is a lot of work being done locally to help adults and children lose weight and keep to a healthy weight.

“This includes a new service called Shape Up Brighton and Hove, which offers support for people of all ages.”

The service includes sessions for children and families, men only and for women who have just given birth.

There is also one-to-one support with dieticians as well as access to sports and activities.

Health and Social Care Information Centre chairman Kingsley Manning said: “Diabetes continues to be one of the most prevalent life-threatening conditions in England.”

Almost half of adults in Brighton and Hove are above a healthy weight, with the figure rising to about 65% in East and West Sussex.