Spring 2013 network THE DIABETES NEWSLETTER FOR HEALTH PROFESS IONALS Something to shout about: exposing a “silent killer”
Diabetes is often called the “silent killer” – an epidemic that knows no prejudice when it comes to race, creed, age or culture. It has reached record levels and continues to escalate in all its forms (type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes), now affecting more than 370 million people across the planet. Of greatest concern, and despite years of warnings, the epidemic shows little sign of turning, with latest research – most notably, the landmark Australian Diabetes Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab) – prompting calls for “radical action” to change community mindsets and drive healthier lifestyle choices. Twelve years on, the AusDiab study, which tracked 11,000 Australians, found the incidence of diabetes remains “alarmingly high”, with around 269 adults (aged over 25) developing the condition every day and, of particular note, facing mortality rates on a par with smoking. Professor Jonathan Shaw, Associate Director of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute and the study’s co-chief investigator, said tough decisions needed to be made in the face of evidence that Australians are failing to make the necessary lifestyle changes to address serious health risks associated with obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. “The health and wellbeing of a whole generation of young Australians is being compromised by a lifestyle rich in
energy dense foods and low on physical activity,” Professor Shaw said on the day of the study’s release (19 August). “As a community, we need to be prepared to take some tough decisions around these issues. It’s not impossible. Look at what we’ve achieved with gun control, smoking cessation and water restrictions. “On the one hand, we need to encourage and support people to make healthier lifestyle choices by providing the right incentives and on the other, we need to apply appropriate measures to discourage behaviours that lead to poor health and increased pressures on the health budget.” As detailed in the last issue of Diabetes Network , which focused on the cost of obesity in Queensland and the success of the Swap It program, the AusDiab study identified the ongoing issue of obesity as one of the biggest risk-factors behind type 2 diabetes. It found a greater trend of weight gain in the 25-34 age group (6.7kg increase), with 36 per cent of all people not meeting existing physical activity guidelines, also underestimating how much time they spent sitting each day. A portable measurement device recorded an average 500 minutes spent sitting per day, more than double the time participants thought they were sedentary (200 minutes). The study also found that the incidence of diabetes is five times higher in people who are obese and two times higher in those who are overweight, with depression also nearly twice as common among those with obesity.
In Australia, at least 1.5 million people have diabetes, which ranks as the nation’s sixth-leading cause of death. In Queensland, 62 people are diagnosed with the condition every day (60 type 2 and two type 1 cases). More than 2 million Australian adults have pre-diabetes and are at high risk of developing type 2, with cases also being diagnosed in an increasingly younger population. On current trends, diabetes is tipped to become the No. 1 health burden over the next five years, with health costs associated with type 2 diabetes expected to double to $30 billion by 2025 in the absence of a more robust national approach to preventing diabetes and its complications. It’s why Diabetes Australia recently released a National Diabetes Strategy and Action Plan as a framework for the incoming government after the 2013 federal election. Read it via http://www. diabetesaustralia.com.au/ PageFiles/3/National%20 Diabetes%20Strategy%20 and%20Action%20Plan.pdf
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