Sunday, July 30, 2006

How common is it?


An alarming number of Australians and Europeans have diabetes, with many new cases expected to be diagnosed in the coming years, according to Australian and European research.

The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab), presented to Federal Health Minister Michael Wooldridge in April this year, revealed that diabetes and its associated complications are set to become Australia’s most costly and significant public health issue within a decade.

AusDiab showed that one in 4 Australians now has diabetes or are at high risk of developing it in the next 5–10 years, while the number of Australians with diabetes has increased by more than 300 per cent in the past 20 years, from 250,000 to one million.

Co-Chief Investigator of AusDiab, Professor Paul Zimmet, warned public health officials to take heed of the figures.

‘This is now an epidemic rivalling infectious diseases such as smallpox, typhoid and cholera. The scenario is identical for obesity, a major cause of diabetes,’ Professor Zimmet said.

Meanwhile, similarly alarming European results were announced at the International Diabetes Federation’s Summit in Switzerland in May.

It was revealed that Type 2 diabetes (previously referred to as non insulin-dependent diabetes) currently affects one in 20 European adults (about 22.5 million in all), with a further 6 million expected to be affected by 2025.

An even more worrying fact is that half of these people are undiagnosed and a further one in 7 adults (65 million) has a condition that places them at very high risk of developing diabetes and its associated complications.

Despite advancements in its treatment, Type 2 diabetes remains a major risk factor for blindness, amputations, kidney failure and cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke). Eight out of every 10 people with Type 2 diabetes will die from cardiovascular disease.

International Diabetes Federation President Professor Sir George Alberti urged governments to take action to fight the growing worldwide epidemic of diabetes.

‘Prevention and early detection of Type 2 diabetes must now be the priorities. It is time to consider screening high-risk individuals for diabetes,’ Professor Alberti said.

The major risk factors for diabetes are a family history of the disease, obesity, being aged over 50 and being from certain ethnic backgrounds, such as Pacific Island or Asian Indian.


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