World Diabetes Day 2015 – why you should care

It’s World Diabetes Day on Saturday 14 November and we wanted to explain why you should care.

Did you know that around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes? With 24 million people living in our country that’s about 1 in every 14 people.

The 1.7 million includes all types of diagnosed diabetes (1.2 million known and registered) as well as silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes (up to 500,000 estimated).

In fact, more than 100,000 Australians have developed diabetes in the past year and of those 100,000 the majority of them, 85%, have developed type 2 diabetes.

That’s one Australian every 6 minutes who’s developed type 2 diabetes.

Which, when it’s put like that, makes you realise why, according to Diabetes Australia (where we sourced these numbers from)

“Diabetes is the epidemic of the 21st century and the biggest challenge confronting Australia’s health system.”

World Diabetes Day image

When we read those numbers we wanted to know (and we guess you did too)

  • What exactly is type 2 diabetes and how is different from other diabetes?
  • How can we tell if we have type 2 diabetes or might get it in the future?
  • And what can we do to prevent it if we don’t have it yet but are at risk?

Here’s what we found out.

There are 3 types of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes accounts for 10-15 % of all diabetes and occurs when the pancreas does not produce any insulin at all which means the body cannot turn sugar into energy. It usually starts in people under 30 years old and requires insulin injections or an insulin pump. It can’t be cured or prevented as it is not linked to any lifestyle or environment factors.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for 85% of all diabetes and occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin and/or the insulin does not work effectively and/or the cells of the body do not respond to insulin effectively. It usually starts in people over 45 years old and can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. However, studies now suggest that type 2 diabetes can start at any time. In fact the number of cases in children and adults younger than 45 are increasing at a significant rate.

Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy and higher than normal blood sugar levels occur. Between 5% and 10% of all pregnant women develop gestational diabetes and it usually goes away when the baby is born.

How can you tell?

So how can you tell if you have type 2 diabetes or are prediabetic (the term used for someone who’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classed as diabetic)?

Here’s a list of some of the symptoms. But be aware that many people don’t have these symptoms at all and, because type 2 often starts at a later age, many of these signs are dismissed as signs of getting older.

  • Being really thirsty
  • Going to the toilet more often
  • Gradually putting on weight
  • Feeling tired and exhausted
  • Feeling irritable or sad
  • Always feeling hungry
  • Cuts that heal slowly
  • Skin infections
  • Leg cramps
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Sudden dizziness

We also found a risk calculator on the Diabetes Australia website where you can do your own risk assessment. You can find the calculator here.

If you have one or more of these symptoms and/or you’re at risk, we encourage you to contact your doctor and get yourself checked. Whatever the outcome of the test it’s much better to know!

Combat diabetes

Prevention of type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes, like type 1, can’t be cured but it can be managed. More importantly, if you find out you’re prediabetic, it is possible to prevent onset in over half of the cases with a few changes to your lifestyle.

Changes that may prevent a prediabetic developing type 2 diabetes include:

  • Regular physical activity (just like we offer here at Live, Life, Get Active)
  • Keeping at a healthy weight (which we encourage and plan for here too)
  • Eating healthy food (as outlined in our tailor made nutrition plans)
  • Not smoking
  • Managing blood and cholesterol levels.

These changes are also a key part of managing a confirmed type 2 diabetes condition.

Exercise and diabetes

Here at Live Life Get Active we can help. Our exercise and nutrition programs address the first three of these suggestions as well as being an opportunity for you to meet new people and re-energise your body.

We have to say we’re concerned about type 2 diabetes and the effect it’s having on people around us. We want everyone to have a happy, healthy life!

So, if you’re ready to take the next step towards a happier, healthier you then click this link to register now! We’d love to help!

Live Life Get Active is building a fitter, healthier and happier Australia and we want people to have fun along the way. With the help of Local Government and Corporate Australia we provide FREE health, fitness and nutritional education both online and in the parks, suburbs and cities of Australia.