Just one in five people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes over the past four years feel they have it under control, research has found.
National Diabetes Audit data has shown that 22.4% of Type 2 diabetes sufferers for up to four years, thought to be about a million people, meet recommended levels for blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure.
Diabetes UK are now holding a series of free events at 80 locations across the UK to educate sufferers.
Chief executive Barbara Young, said: "Unfortunately, a big part of the reason that so many people with Type 2 are starting off on the wrong path is the lack of available diabetes education.
"This is why we want the NHS to give every person with diabetes the chance to have this kind of education."
Around 3.8 million people in the UK are diabetic and about 35% of the population have borderline diabetes. Diabetes UK has called for more focus on preventing type 2 diabetes, saying that if the rate of people getting the condition continues the consequences could be "disastrous".
It is deeply worrying that more than 700 people a day are being diagnosed with diabetes and this clearly shows the frightening scale of what is fast becoming a national health emergency.
If we continue to see people being diagnosed at this rate then the consequences will be disastrous.
As the number of people with diabetes grows, we are likely to see even more people endure devastating health complications such as amputation and kidney failure and more people die tragically young.
It would also lead to an increase in NHS costs that would be simply unsustainable.
A charity has warned that diabetes is becoming a "national health emergency" as figures suggest that hundreds of people are diagnosed with the condition every day in the UK.
Diabetes UK said that more than 280,000 people a year are diagnosed with diabetes - the equivalent to the population of Newcastle.
Each day 738 people are told that they have type 2 diabetes - which is linked to being overweight - and 30 are diagnosed with type 1 diabetes - which is not linked to weight.
New research shows extremely rapid rise of 'pre-diabetes' in adults. Are you are risk?Read the full story ›
People at high risk of getting pre-diabetes need to be told so they can make lifestyle changes in a bid to combat the condition, Diabetes UK chief executive said.
Having high enough blood glucose levels to be classified as having pre-diabetes leaves people at a significantly increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which is a lifelong condition that already affects more than three million people and can lead to serious health complications such as heart disease, stroke, amputation and blindness.
We need to make sure those at high risk are made aware of this so that they can get the advice and support they need to make the lifestyle changes that can help reduce this.
In fact, up to 80% of cases of type 2 diabetes could be avoided or delayed by making these kinds of changes.
There has been an "extremely rapid rise" in adults in England being on the cusp of having diabetes with those from poorer backgrounds at "substantial risk", researchers said.
The authors of the study, published in the journal BMJ Open, wrote: "There has been a marked increase in the proportion of adults in England with pre-diabetes.
"The socio-economically deprived are at substantial risk. In the absence of concerted and effective efforts to reduce risk, the number of people with diabetes is likely to increase steeply in coming years."
They added: "This rapid rise in such a short period of time is particularly disturbing because it suggests that large changes on a population level can occur in a relatively short period of time.
"If there is no coordinated response to the rise in pre-diabetes, an increase in numbers of people with diabetes will ensue, with consequent increase in health expenditure, morbidity and cardiovascular mortality."
Over a third of adults in England have borderline diabetes and if nothing is done to buck the trend, there will be a steep rise in the condition, researchers said.
People who are classed to have borderline diabetes - or pre-diabetes as it is also known - have higher than normal blood glucose levels.
Those with the condition are at high risk of developing diabetes and its associated complications.
Pre-diabetes in England has trebled in eight years with 35.3% having the condition in 2011 compared to 11.6% in 2003, a study published in the journal BMJ Open found.
The authors of the study examined data from Health Survey for England for the years 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2011 involving thousands of participants.
Diabetes is "one of these conditions that creeps up on you" and the general public should be more aware of what they can do to prevent developing type 2 diabetes, a health expert told Daybreak.
Chief executive of Diabetes UK, Baroness Young, said it was "only when the symptoms start to appear" that people realise something is wrong, when they could easily prevent it.
The UK is coping with an "unfolding public health disaster" with NHS figures showing "one in 17 people" have been diagnosed with diabetes, the head of a health charity said.
Baroness Young, chief executive of Diabetes UK, continued:
Firstly, we need more focus on preventing type 2 diabetes, as this is the only way we can bring the rapid rise in diabetes cases under control.
This means properly implementing the NHS Health Check so we can identify more people at high risk and then making sure they get the support they need to reduce that risk.
We also need to address the obesity crisis, which is what is fuelling the increase in type 2, by making healthy food cheaper and more accessible and by making it easier for people to build physical activity into their daily lives.
Type 2 diabetes, which is linked to obesity and unhealthy lifestyles, is behind the jump in the number of people developing the disease, according to official figures.
NHS data showed 3,208,014 adults are now suffering from either type 1 or 2 diabetes, with 850,000 more people estimated to have diabetes without knowing it.
However, 163,00 more people were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes last year than they were in 2012.
Healthy charity Diabetes UK said some of the rise was down to better diagnoses techniques but warned the rise in the number of patients with type 2 showed no signs of slowing down.
Diabetes UK says as many as seven million more people are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and, if current trends continue, an estimated five million people will have diabetes by 2025.