Diabetes Hits 275 Australians Each Day as Pandemic Spreads

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Risk of developing diabetes

A new national health study funded by the NH&MRC, industry and state governments released today by the International Diabetes Institute in Melbourne shows diabetes is hitting up to 275 new victims each day throughout Australia.

The findings of the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab) were presented today to the Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, Mr Tony Abbott and provide the first definitive, clear picture of the rising tide of diabetes, obesity, hypertension (increased blood pressure) and chronic kidney disease.

The statistics reveal that in Australia each year:

  • Approximately 100,000 adults develop diabetes (275 people daily)

  • More than 200,000 people progress from being overweight to being obese (nearly 600 people daily)

  • 400,000 adults develop hypertension, and

  • 270,000 adults develop chronic kidney disease.

The Australia-wide study was conducted by the International Diabetes Institute over the last 15 months and is the first to have measured how many new cases of these diseases occur in Australia annually.

The results are drawn from a follow-up investigation of more than 6,000 adults whose health was first assessed five years ago during the Institute's landmark AusDiab Study. IDI researchers established a world-first by identifying a national representative sample of Australia's adult population and carrying out individual blood tests for diabetes.

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The Director of the International Diabetes Institute, Professor Paul Zimmet, said the research findings sent a "Red Alert" to ordinary Australians and to those charged with responsibility for public health.

"With 275 new cases of diabetes and 600 cases of obesity occurring each day, we now have compelling proof that Australia's diabetes epidemic is in full flight." Professor Zimmet said.

In addition to measuring the development of new cases, the follow-up study showed that during the last 5 years:

  • People's waistlines increased on average by 2.1 cm and their weight by 1.4 kg

  • People with prediabetes* were 15 times more likely to develop diabetes than those with normal blood sugar levels

  • Obese people were 4 times more likely to develop diabetes than those with normal weight

  • People with high blood pressure were 3 times more likely to develop diabetes than those who had normal blood pressure, and

  • People who are physically inactive had twice the risk of developing diabetes than those who were active.

Professor Zimmet said, "There is no doubt that diabetes and its associated problems of heart disease, strokes, amputations and kidney failure will have a profound impact on Australia's future health budgets.

"What we have done is to quantify the risks. We now have hard data which give our Federal and State governments the first tangible indication of the size of the problem which will burden current and future generations. These data will be instrumental in establishing priorities and calculating future budgetary needs.

"The diabetes epidemic is being driven by lifestyle factors, particularly the dramatic increase in obesity, poor diet and physical inactivity

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