Cockburn locals more likely to get diabetes than their Fremantle neighbours


Curtin University’s Dr Hani Al-Salami.
Curtin University’s Dr Hani Al-Salami.

COCKBURN locals are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than their Fremantle neighbours, but still fare better health-wise than residents further south.

Across the country, 4.7 people per 100 aged between 25 and 64 are estimated to have diabetes, according to data from the Australian Health Policy Collaboration.

This increases to 5 per 100 in Cockburn Central, Coolbellup, South Lake, Spearwood and Hamilton Hill, and 5.1 in Beeliar, Henderson, Wattleup and Yangebup.

Across the border in west Kwinana, figures are higher still, affecting 7.7 people per 100.

Curtin University School of Pharmacy’s Dr Hani Al-Salami said the number of people being diagnosed with diabetes across the country was increasing dramatically.

“In Australia alone, one person is diagnosed with diabetes every five minutes,” Dr Al-Salami said.

“Possible reasons include change in lifestyle and living longer.

“In addition, the significant increase in diabetes prevalence is contributed to the current treatments not being completely effective, and the need for more robust treatments that work better than current ones to bring symptoms under control in a safe way.

“Currently diabetes costs Australia $10 billion a year and we are fifth in the world in terms of prevalence. The cost is expected to increase by $0.5 to 1 billion a year, and life expectancy is about 10 years lower among diabetics.”

Dr Al-Salami said there was a strong drive globally to develop better treatments. His lab at Curtin was using nano and micro technologies to design and engineer unique capsules that could be loaded with drugs or living cells and transplanted in to the body.

He said the variation in the rate of diabetes across Australia had complex and entwined causes.

“Causes may include access to health, types of employment commonly available (e.g. fly in/out vs. farming), genetic heritage, background and social norms, available food sources (fresh from the farm or processed food)… however, it is impossible to pinpoint to one cause as the reason for the variation,” he said.

Dr Al-Salami has two main steps for people to follow to reduce their risk.

“Firstly, increase their knowledge on what diabetes is and how it is treated. Secondly, change their lifestyle (e.g. better diet and appropriate physical activities) to reduce possibility of developing diabetes, bearing in mind that every individual is different in terms of how our bodies respond to lifestyle changes,” he said.