It is believed there are about 2,800 people in the Brighton and Hove area who are diabetic.

The figure is expected to rise because of the increasing number of children who are developing the condition at an early age.

This has been partly blamed on higher numbers of children who are severely overweight or obese, both of which can be contributing factors to diabetes.

The Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation believes the figure for the city could triple in the next decade unless action is taken now.

It is planning to work with the newly-appointed National Clincal Director for Diabetes, Sue Roberts, to address the issue of prevention and implement lifestyle education programmes for people at risk.

The charity wants to get the message across that it is excess body fat and not weight that leads to diabetes - which can itself lead to heart disease, blindness and kidney failure.

James Rogers, the charity's executive director, said: "It is absolutely essential we address prevention if we are to avoid seeing a diabetes epidemic in this country.

"Until now, diabetes care has been primarily focused on early detection and management of the condition but we also need to address prevention urgently.

"The risk of developing diabetes grows as body fat increases so we must encourage people to take action by monitoring body fat and taking the necessary steps to stay at a healthy level.

"The more fat we have, the less we are able to respond to insulin - causing insulin resistance and glucose intolerance, which are the precursors of diabetes.

"Simply losing weight doesn't always help, as rapid weight loss can mean losing water or muscle rather than body fat.

"Even people who do not have a 'weight problem' may have higher levels of internal body fat than are considered healthy.

"We recommend regularly monitoring body fat levels to ensure they remain within the healthy range. This can be done using a body-fat monitor at the doctor's, at the gym or at home."

Diabetes risk factors include high body fat/high waist measurement, high blood pressure and a family history of the condition.

Treatments are generally very effective and the more you know about your condition, the more you can do to stay healthy, lead the sort of life you want to live and avoid the health problems associated with diabetes later in life.

Insulin is vital for life. It is a hormone produced by the pancreas that helps glucose to enter the cells where it is used as fuel by the body.

The main symptoms of untreated diabetes are increased thirst, going to the toilet often, especially at night, extreme tiredness, weight loss and blurred vision.

There are two main types of diabetes. These are Type One, also known as insulindependent diabetes, and Type Two, known as non insulin-dependent diabetes.

Type One diabetes develops if the body is unable to produce any insulin. This type of diabetes usually appears before the age of 40.

It is treated by insulin injections and diet. Regular exercise is recommended.

Type Two diabetes develops when the body can still make some insulin but not enough, or when the insulin that is produced does not work properly.

This type usually appears in people over the age of 40. It is treated by diet and exercise alone or by diet, exercise and tablets or diet, exercise and injections.

The main aim of treatment of both types is to achieve blood glucose and blood pressure levels as near to normal as possible.

This, together with a healthy lifestyle, will help to improve wellbeing and protect against long-term damage to the eyes, kidneys, nerves, heart and major arteries.

Although food choice and eating habits are important in helping to manage diabetes, sufferers should be able to continue enjoying a wide variety of different foods as part of a balanced diet.

Further information is available from Diabetes UK on 020 7323 1531 or visit the web site at