Raising Diabetes Awareness in Australia

June 10 2024

Diabetes is a growing epidemic in Australia, presenting significant challenges to the healthcare system and affecting millions of Australians. Understanding the prevalence, types, complications, and measures to combat diabetes is crucial for raising awareness and promoting better health outcomes.

The Growing Burden of Diabetes

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia, outpacing other conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Every day, more than 300 Australians develop diabetes, equating to one person every five minutes. The total number of Australians living with diabetes is nearly 1.9 million, including both diagnosed and undiagnosed cases. This pervasive disease not only affects those diagnosed but also has a profound impact on families and carers, extending the daily reach of diabetes to an estimated 2.4 million Australians.

Types of Diabetes

  1. Type 1 Diabetes:
    • Prevalence: 134,000 Australians.
    • Characteristics: An autoimmune condition where the pancreas produces little or no insulin. It requires lifelong insulin therapy and often manifests in childhood.
    • Proportion: Represents about 10% of all diabetes cases.
  2. Type 2 Diabetes:
    • Prevalence: Almost 1.3 million Australians.
    • Characteristics: characterised by the body’s ineffective use of insulin. Linked to genetic factors and lifestyle choices such as diet and physical inactivity.
    • Proportion: Accounts for 85-90% of all diabetes cases.
    • Prevention: Nearly 60% of cases can be delayed or prevented through lifestyle changes.
  3. Gestational Diabetes:
    • Prevalence: Affects about one in six pregnancies, making it the fastest growing type of diabetes in Australia.
    • Characteristics: Occurs during pregnancy and typically resolves after childbirth. However, it increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Complications Arising from Diabetes

Diabetes can lead to severe complications, significantly impacting quality of life and increasing mortality risk. Key complications include:

  • Blindness: Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness in working-age Australians. Diabetic retinopathy affects between 25% and 35% of Australians with diabetes.
  • Amputations: Over 27,600 hospital admissions for diabetes-related foot ulcers occur annually, often resulting in amputations. More than 4,400 amputations are conducted each year due to diabetes.
  • Heart Disease: People with diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to develop heart disease, the leading cause of death among those with type 2 diabetes.
  • Kidney Disease: There are over 250,000 hospitalisations annually for diabetes-related kidney disease. Around 280,000 people with diabetes are estimated to have kidney disease, with over 12,400 on dialysis or having received a kidney transplant.

Addressing the Challenge

Combating the diabetes epidemic requires a multi-faceted approach involving prevention, early detection, and effective management. Key strategies include:

  • Promoting Healthy Lifestyles: Encouraging balanced diets, regular physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight are crucial in preventing type 2 diabetes.
  • Regular Screening: Early detection through regular blood glucose testing can help manage and mitigate complications.
  • Education and Support: Providing resources and support to those living with diabetes and their carers can improve disease management and quality of life.
  • Research and Innovation: Investing in diabetes research to discover new treatments and potential cures.

Diabetes poses a substantial and growing threat to public health in Australia. Raising awareness about its prevalence, types, and complications, and promoting preventative measures are essential steps towards mitigating its impact. Through collective efforts in education, healthcare, and research, we can strive towards a healthier future for all Australians.

For more information and resources, visit Diabetes Australia. ‚Äč