Figures reveal diabetes on rise

CASES of diabetes maybe on the rise in Gympie but our local support group isn’t getting any more members.

Recent statistics by Diabetes Australia have shown 4.9 per cent of the region’s population now has diabetes, compared to 3.7 per cent in 2007.

This isn’t news to Gympie Diabetes Support Group members like Jean Harm.

But it is a “battle” to get people to come to meetings.

“There’s so much information available people don’t think they need any support,” she said.

Mrs Harm said type two diabetes – that she was diagnosed with – was just a part of living today.

Sitting in front of computers, not doing enough exercise and fast food were contributors, she said.

About eight years ago Mrs Harm went to the doctors and although she didn’t feel like anything was wrong, she asked to get a blood test.

Her doctor tested her for diabetes and shocked her with the news that she had it.

She was also diagnosed with kidney failure but that wasn’t caused by her diabetes, like it can be, her doctor said.

“It was a big shock, I didn’t know I had anything wrong.”

Mrs Harm counts herself lucky for being diagnosed early on in her illness.

She is able to control her diabetes with diet alone and regular blood glucose level checks but said if left too long that may not have been the case. “I follow a low GI diet, which is recommended today. But you can have a treat.”

Mrs Harm encouraged people to get regular checks, to see if they had diabetes or other conditions.

And if you do have diabetes, get checks on your feet, eyes and teeth every three months.

“People should take it very seriously. Just a blood test can tell you what your blood glucose levels were for the last three months.”

At Diabetes Support Group meetings, she said, members shared the latest information and supported each other – which was a big help for her when initially diagnosed.

While some people come, learn and leave the group, current members see the need to help others diagnosed with the condition.

“We stay because we think its good to help people.”

But with a lack of members all the money raised to help send children to diabetes camps was sitting idle, Mrs Harm said.

The total cost of diabetes in Queensland was estimated at $6.9 billion in 2008, $2.5 billion in direct financial costs and $4.4 billion in the cost of lost wellbeing.

Diabetes Australia research shows Queensland is in the grip of a diabetes epidemic; figures reveal that 66 of Queensland’s 74 Local Government areas are hotspots for diabetes, which is a dramatic increase on 2007 figures.

CEO Michelle Trute said diabetes was the fastest growing non-infectious disease in the world and two million Queenslanders were at risk of type two diabetes because they were overweight.

Ms Trute said diabetes-related medical cases now occupied one-in-five Queensland hospital beds and diabetes was the number one cause of avoidable hospitalisations in the state.

“We are seeing a massive increase in type 2 diabetes, in particular. If current trends continue, the devastating effects of this largely preventable disease will grow to cost $16.6 billion in 2028.”

For more information on Gympie’s Diabetes Support Group call Jean Harm on 5482 2578 or Dale Parker on 5482 1799.

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