Diabetes ignorance high among Australians
country’s fastest growing disease.The figures came as health bodies marked National Diabetes Week by calling for greater government support for the chronic disease. Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson said the “disconnect between public perception of risk and reality is a major concern”, with 280 Australians developing diabetes every day – equating to 100,000 per year. “All types of diabetes – type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes – show worrying increases in prevalence,” he said. “All types of diabetes are serious and can lead to serious complications. Heart attacks and strokes kill people with diabetes early and are four times more likely in people with diabetes.” Current trends showed diabetes would be Australia’s biggest disease burden within five years, with type 2 diabetes costing Australia $14.6 billion per year, set to double in 12 years if prevention did not improve, he said. Medibank said a Galaxy poll commissioned by its 24/7 Health Advice Line found 97% of Australians did not know all the major symptoms or how many types of diabetes there were. The poll also found almost one in five people did not know obesity was a risk factor for diabetes, and that two-thirds of people did not know that the development of
type 2 diabetes could be slowed by exercising and improving diet.Australian Medicare Local Alliance chair Dr Arn Sprogis said both sides of politics must commit to introducing – via Medicare Locals – national standards and programs for diabetes self-management education and support. The Australian Diabetes Council said diabetes may loom as an election issue, with its own figures showing it had become “entrenched” in key electoral battleground Western Sydney. It said 40% of adult Australians with diabetes lived in NSW, of whom the highest concentration lived in Western Sydney. Liverpool was by far the state’s number one diabetes postcode, with 6271 people with the condition, followed by Mount Druitt with 4800 and Campbelltown with 4668. “With seven of the top 10 diabetes postcodes all based in Western Sydney, where many say the federal election may be lost or won, this should be of concern for federal representatives,” Australian Diabetes Council CEO Nicola Stokes said.