Since 1990, globally the number of deaths due to diabetes has doubled – the fastest rate of increase for any condition. This global epidemic of diabetes and related conditions is well-reflected in Western Sydney. Diabetes rates in Western Sydney are above those of NSW and Nationally. According to the Western Sydney Local Health District, Blacktown has the highest rates of diabetes in Western Sydney making up 41% of the total.
In type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance occurs within the body (cells do not respond to insulin properly) and there is a deficiency in insulin production by the pancreas which results in an inability to meet the body’s increased needs for insulin. When this happens, glucose cannot be shovelled into channels and instead glucose builds up in the blood rather than the cells receiving it for energy. When blood glucose reaches high levels over time it can cause serious damage to various parts of the body. These are referred to as diabetic complications which can affect such parts of the lower limbs, kidneys, heart, and eyes. Diabetes is seriously underestimated.
The Real Cost of Diabetes
You may think this may not be your problem, when in fact diabetes is everyone’s problem when it costs Australia $14 billion a year. Another fun fact – 70 Australians lose their limbs to this condition every week. I personally see many cases of poor leg health and lower limb mobility every week in as I drive past Blacktown hospital. Every day a quarter to a third of those hospital beds are occupied by those suffering from diabetes or its associated complications.
Management of Diabetes
You know what will lower such overall health care costs? LIFESTYLE INTERVENTION! I preach this every single day. It is diet and exercise! It’s no small correlation that around 53.9% of adults (not children) in Western Sydney are not getting enough physical activity, in fact, these rates are the lowest in NSW. Strong evidence repeatedly demonstrates blood glucose control, blood pressure, weight loss, lipid levels, cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, balance, independence, physical function and quality of life all improve in type 2 diabetics who properly exercise. In addition, less sleep apnoea, severe diabetic kidney disease and retinopathy, sexual dysfunction, knee pain, depression and urinary incontinence. It is no coincidence that the first line of treatment for type 2 diabetes…..is exercise.
Every diabetic has the responsibility of managing their condition by taking action every single day, as well as myself being a vital referral point from GP’s to help guide these people along the way to ensure their daily living is improved for the rest of their lifespan. The best dosage is at least 150min per week of aerobic activity plus 2-3 sessions of planned resistance training per week ensuring there are no more than 2 days consecutively with no exercise.
Of course, it’s not as simple as telling someone exercise every day. It goes in one ear and out the other. Diabetes develops over time and it is due to an individual’s lifestyle that has gotten them to that point. It’s not so easy to have someone flick the switch and reverse that lifestyle. I understand. It requires serious behaviour change – this is key. Diabetics in Blacktown need to be educated first, so then hopefully their intentions and motivations change to ultimately take action if they value their health.