National Diabetes Week focuses on early detection and awareness

It is said that time waits for no one.

This has never been more true than with people who live with diabetes, which is why the theme of Diabetes Week for 2017 is It’s About Time.

Running from July 9-15, the week relates not only to the 1.7 million Australians who are known to be living with the disease, but to the 500,000 that could have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes is associated with both genetic and modifiable lifestyle risk factors and occurs when the body gradually loses its ability to produce insulin.

Diabetes Tasmania chief executive Caroline Wells said while stories about diabetes regularly feature in the news, people need to think about it in relation to their own health.

“As much as we see diabetes-related material in the media, people’s level of awareness about it needs to be much higher,” she said.

“This comes from getting the message out at a grassroots level.

“It’s About Time is the theme of this week, but it is something we would like to carry on, because people need to be wary of it all year round.”

Hot spots

Tasmania ranks third in the nation in terms of diabetes incidence, with nearly 30,000 people living with some form of disease within the state.

Ms Wells said Diabetes Tasmania has been able to identify hot spots where it is more prevalent.

“Generally we find low socio economic areas are more likely to have higher rates of diabetes,” she said.

“It’s vital that people in these areas who have diabetes are able to access support services.”

Education

New research has from Diabetes Tasmania found that only 5 per cent of Australians over 40 have had a type 2 diabetes risk check in the past two years.

Launceston’s Dr Gary Kilov has recently been appointed an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Science at the University of Melbourne in the Department of General Practice.

It follows extensive work in the field of diabetes education, where he divided his time between treating patients with the disease, and conducting seminars with undergraduates and peers around the country.

He said people often don’t realise the extent of the harm it can cause.

“I think there is a degree of complacency surrounding diabetes where people don’t fully appreciate its significance,” he said.

“Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness in Australia.”

“It is not often understood that it is a progressive disease, and there are targets which need to be met in regards to blood glucose levels, cholesterol, and blood pressure.

“If optimal control is achieved, then the potential of complications is reduced.”

For more information including how to get checked for diabetes, visit diabetestas.org.au.