Wheatbelt: Lifestyle adding to diabetes scourge

Wheatbelt GPN diabetes educators Amanda Harding and Nyaree Lawler hold clinics.
Wheatbelt GPN diabetes educators Amanda Harding and Nyaree Lawler hold clinics.

If diabetes were a country, it would be the third largest in the world, according to the World Health Organisation.

Nine per cent of adults worldwide – or 422 million – have diabetes, and that figure is set to double in the next 20 years.

In Australia, 1.7 million people have diabetes, with 280 new cases diagnosed daily.

It is the fastest-growing chronic health disease in Australia, overtaking heart disease and cancer, and 1470 times more people die each year from diabetes than road accidents.

The complications from diabetes are the leading preventable cause of hospitalisation, and they represent 25 per cent of all hospital admissions in the Wheatbelt, with local admissions 10 per cent higher than the State average.

“Diabetes is a major health problem for people around the world and the Wheatbelt is no exception,” director of the Wheatbelt General Practice Network Dr Viswanatha Ramaraju said.

“While 9 per cent of Australians have diabetes, there is likely a further 18 per cent that are currently undetected.

“I am newly diagnosing patients daily and getting them the help they need.”

Type 2 diabetes is a chronic health condition and although there is a strong genetic predisposition, the risk is greatly increased when associated with lifestyle factors such as high blood pressure, being overweight, insufficient physical activity and poor diet.

If untreated, diabetes can lead to heart and blood vessel disease, nerve damage, kidney damage, eye damage, foot damage, hearing impairment, skin conditions and Alzheimer’s.

Wheatbelt GPN dietician and diabetes educator Amanda Harding said a healthy lifestyle reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 per cent.

“Prevention is always better than cure,” she said. “Regular health checks once we reach 50 years of age can pick up diabetes earlier because often people don’t have symptoms and can have it for years without knowing.”