MORE than 12,000 people in Southampton are at risk of blindness, kidney disease, stroke and heart disease - and the numbers are only going up.

Research led by Diabetes UK has revealed that the number of city residents diagnosed with diabetes has increased by hundreds in a single year.

According to the data, 12,954 people in the city currently have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes - conditions that can lead to complications such as amputation, blindness, kidney disease, stroke and heart disease if people don’t receive the right care.

The figure is 706 more than last year.

National charity Diabetes UK said obesity is the leading cause in the majority of preventable cases and is now calling on health bosses to take further action to tackle childhood obesity.

Jill Steaton, head of the South East region at Diabetes UK, said: “Unless we act, and urgently, diabetes prevalence will continue to rise.

"Type 1 diabetes isn’t currently preventable, but three in five cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed.

"We need to end the marketing of unhealthy food to children and make sure the food all of us eat is healthier.”

Ms Steaton also highlighted the need to identify people who are at risk.

“More people who are at high risk of Type 2 diabetes must be identified so that they can get the education, care and support they need to reduce their risk.

"We have to take action now so we can live in a world where fewer people have diabetes in future.”

City councillor Dave Shields, cabinet member for health and community safety, said: “It’s now clear that obesity cannot be addressed by a single organisation or intervention.

"We need action across all sectors and organisations. "We need to take the focus away from the individual and look instead at the environment – making access to healthier food easier.

"Healthy choices should be easy choices.We know that childhood obesity is an issue both locally and nationally and Southampton City Council and its partners are committed to tackling the issue.”

Cllr Shields said the authority has developed plans to tackle childhood obesity.

These include working with schools and colleges, and making sure overweight young people have the support they need to achieve a healthier weight.

It comes after the city was ranked in the top 10 places in the country for obesity in 2016.