Australia is sitting on a ticking timebomb of ill health and despite years of public health campaigns very little seems to have changed.
The fact is that much of the burden of type 2 diabetes could be prevented through people taking greater responsibility for their health and trying to attain three simple interlinked measures; maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and following a healthy eating plan.
For decades various government agencies and health organisations have been pleading with the population to take care of their health to prevent various diseases, but even with all the information about what we need to do it seems there has been very little change in our habits.
A startling amount of residents are not eating enough fruit and vegetables and as a result, almost one in three of us are overweight and almost one in five are classified as obese – the main risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes.
While 1.1 million Australians have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, an estimated 500,000 Australians have silent, undiagnosed diabetes and often live with the disease for up to seven years before diagnosis.
During that time the disease wreaks havoc on the body, with diagnosis often coming as a result of an acute health emergency or complications such as heart attack, stroke, blindness, eye damage, ulcers or a limb amputation.
As National Diabetes Week gets underway, Diabetes Australia has launched a new campaign pushing for earlier diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes Australia chief executive Professor Greg Johnson said early detection of type 2 diabetes and optimal treatment could save as much as $1415 per person per year – or more than $700 million for the Australian health system.
The organisation is calling on emergency rooms and GP clinics to conduct more routine screening that could, in many cases, prevent complications through early detection, treatment and lifestyle changes.