AUSTRALIA’S type 2 diabetes rate sits as the fifth most prevalent in the world, and rising.
One person is diagnosed with the disease every five minutes, and there are no longer age limitations for the largely lifestyle-induced illness, with more young people being diagnosed compared to those aged 35 and older less than a decade ago.
Curtin University Hani Al-Salami is a registered pharmacist in Australia and New Zealand who has been conducting research and working in the area of drug delivery and applications in diabetes for many years.
He said the spread was getting faster and he expected to see type 2 diabetes diagnosis rates reach one in three minutes in the next five years.
“It is an epidemic and it’s getting worse, the spread is faster,” he said.
“The conventional way of understanding diabetes is no longer accurate; people over 15 years old are being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and type 2 patients are getting younger.”
In Australia, 90 per cent of people with diabetes have type 2.
Dr Al-Salami said years of adding small conveniences had dramatically lessened the number of calories used by people day-to-day.
“The best analogy is an old car with no power steering being hard work to drive so burning calories, but today a car starts with a button and just goes,” he said.
“That could have used up 50 calories.”
Dr Al-Salami said the way to combat the type 2 diabetes epidemic was through education and collaboration between scientists.
“As researchers and scientists, we need to do better… in Australia we need to work on getting closer and integrating to advance a shared goal,” he said.
Dr Al-Salami rejected a sugar tax to combat people’s dietary decisions.
“I think people should be able to choose what they want to drink… I think education is the best way to go forward,” he said.
He said the national spend on diabetes research in Australia was $12 billion a year compared to similarly positioned countries like Canada who spent about $200 billion a year.
Dr Al-Salami was among the scientists presenting at the Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute symposium showcasing selected Vascular and Metabolic Research being done at CHIRI.
The symposium featured presentations from scientists from across the country covering vascular disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic disease, as well as lipid and hepatic disorders.
ACCORDING to a Grattan Institute report into a tax on sugary drinks, Australians are getting fatter.
More than one in four adults are classified as obese, up from one in 10 in the early 1980s and about 7 per cent of children are now obese.
The report found obesity is predominantly caused by people eating too much unhealthy processed food, often at considerable cost to their health and quality of life.
The Institute has called for a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, recommending an excise tax of 40 cents per 100g of sugar on non-alcoholic, water-based beverages that contain added sugar.
This would increase the price of a two-litre bottle of soft drink by about 80 cents. This tax would raise about $500 million a year, generate a drop of about 15 per cent in consumption of SSBs and likely result in a small decrease in obesity rates, as people switch to water and other drinks not subject to the tax.
The report reasoned obesity cost Australian taxpayers more than $5.3 billion a year and that obese people were more likely to go to doctors and be admitted to hospital more often than other people.
Reasoning for the tax included having the Australian government putting the $500 million a year towards reducing the budget deficit, boosting healthcare funding, or spending the money on programs designed to treat obesity and promote healthy eating.