EPIDEMIC levels of diabetes are putting the health of countless Australians at risk and costing the country millions of dollars.
Wide Bay Balanced Health diabetes educator Janelle Anderson said with National Diabetes Week beginning yesterday, the key was to make people aware of the risk factors so they could make lifestyle changes to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Research has shown that by eating healthy foods and exercising regularly, type 2 diabetes may be delayed or even prevented in up to 60% of cases.
"Type 2 diabetes is preventable if it's not age related," Ms Anderson said.
"As an affluent society due to our access to high energy food and limited physical activity, we are seeing huge rates of obesity - a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes."
Ms Anderson said she was increasingly seeing people diagnosed at younger and younger ages.
"People are potentially adding 30-40 years of pressure on to their pancreas."
Nearly 80% of Australians don't think they are at risk of developing diabetes despite evidence that over 2 million Australians have pre-diabetes.
Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson said the disconnect between public perception of risk and reality was a major concern.
"Nearly 100,000 Australians developed diabetes in the past year ... 280 Australians develop diabetes every day," he said.
Prof Johnson said on current trends diabetes would become the number one burden of disease in Australia in the next five years.
"Type 2 diabetes currently costs the Australian community $14.6 billion a year," he said.
"This will double to $30 billion in 12 years if we don't adopt stronger approaches to preventing diabetes."
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