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DIABETES - Are You at Risk?

In Australia, 280 people develop diabetes every day. That’s one person every five minutes.

Diabetes is recognised as the world’s fastest-growing chronic condition. The number of people with type 2 diabetes is growing in each country. In 2015, the International Diabetes Federation’s Diabetes Atlas estimated that:

  • one in 11 adults has diabetes (415 million)

  • one in seven births is affected by gestational diabetes

  • three-quarters (75%) of people with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries

  • 542,000 children have type 1 diabetes

  • every six seconds a person dies from diabetes (5 million deaths).

Diabetes is the epidemic of the 21st century and also the biggest challenge confronting Australia’s health system. In Australia, 280 people develop diabetes every day. That’s one person every five minutes. More than 100,000 Australians have developed diabetes in the past year. The total annual cost impact of diabetes in Australia is estimated at $14.6 billion.

This year National Diabetes Week is celebrated 7-14 July to raise awareness and understanding about this condition. Check with your state diabetes branch for events and campaigns happening in your local area.

Diabetes is a chronic condition that occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood. This happens if the body is not producing insulin or if insulin is not working properly. Glucose is a particular type of sugar – it is needed to provide energy for the body. Insulin is required to enable glucose to enter the body’s cells and be converted to energy. Insulin also allows glucose to be stored in muscle, the liver, and other tissues.

There are a number of different types of diabetes.

Type 1 diabetes is a condition in which the pancreas does not produce insulin. This type represents 10–15% of all cases of diabetes and is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in developed nations. Type 1 diabetes is not caused by lifestyle factors. There is no cure, and it cannot be prevented.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common, with 85-90% of cases being type 2 diabetes. People with type 2 still produce insulin but it does not work as well, or the pancreas does not make enough insulin. It usually affects mature adults, but younger people, even children, are now getting type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is more common in people who have low levels of physical activity or are overweight or obese, but it also occurs in people who have a family history of diabetes and people with other risk factors (e.g. increasing age or poor diet).

Pre-diabetes is a condition where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. People with pre-diabetes have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

A balanced diet and regular physical activity are key elements of preventing and managing diabetes. Being overweight or obese increases the chance of getting diabetes. While the underlying causes of obesity are complex, the resulting problems are well known; type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) disease, osteoarthritis and sleep apnoea are some of these problems.

It is important to take a balanced view with regard to nutrition, drawing on a range of foods rather than focusing on single nutrients as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. No single food is responsible for weight gain or loss, but our total kilojoule (or calorie) intake from all food is what can cause problems.

During National Diabetes Week visit your local pharmacy to learn more about diabetes and how it can be managed. If you have any of the risk factors for diabetes such as excess weight or smoking, now is the perfect time to ask your pharmacist about lifestyle changes.

For the nearest Self Care pharmacy location, phone the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia on 1300 369 772, or go to or Ask Piggotts!

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