Type 2 diabetes is Australia’s fastest growing chronic condition, and unfortunately it is yet another health scourge that the Tamworth region is ahead of the curve on.
In the last 12 months it has been revealed that Tamworth residents punch well above their weight in both prevalence of smokers per capita, as well as boasting the fattest suburb in the nation, two major contributing lifestyle factors to the often preventable disease.
This week is National Diabetes Week, and the emphasis is on taking the free AUSDRISK online test which assesses an individual’s risk of contracting the “insidious” disease, which is the leading cause of preventable blindness, limb amputation and end-stage kidney disease.
Figures from Diabetes NSW and ACT show that 3,594 people in the Tamworth area are living with diabetes, representing 5.7 per cent of the community, O.6 percent above the national average.
Of them 3080, or 85.7 per cent suffer from type 2.
Tamworth Hospital Diabetes Educator Sally Endacott believes that more needs to be done in terms of education, awareness and funding, although would also like to see people take more responsibility for their own health and wellbeing.
“Type 2 is insidious because a lot of the damage is already done before diagnosis – but there are some simple ways to avoid it and early diagnosis is also crucial,” Mrs Endacott said.
“Eating, drinking, smoking and exercise all play a part – Type 2 has a legacy effect, so that what you do, or don’t do now, will be really evident in five or ten years – losing just five kilos can have a huge impact.”
While type 2 will stay with people for life it can be “very well controlled through lifestyle”, and it is that fact that frustrates the local health professional the most.
“The most disturbing aspect is that we are seeing more and more kids diagnosed with type 2 because of the way that society is living. We also get a lot of people that aren’t willing to make those small changes for themselves,” Mrs Endacott said.
The AUSDRISK test can be found online, and a simple scoring system will let you know the risks and next step.