Diabetes hits 280 new Australians each day

Research news
14 July 2015
Deakin researchers are helping to raise diabetes awareness.

More than one million Australians have type 2 diabetes, and around 280 new cases are diagnosed every day, yet many people are unaware of the causes and implications of the disease.

As part of “Diabetes Week,” a new national campaign was launched on 12 July by Diabetes Australia that aims to educate the public about the current diabetes epidemic.

Researchers from the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes, based within Deakin's School of Psychology, have been closely involved in developing and supporting the campaign - #280aday - which emphasises the message that "you don’t have to be old or overweight to develop diabetes."

"Type 2 diabetes is fast becoming Australia's number one burden of disease, yet there continues to be a lack of awareness about the condition," said Professor Jane Speight, Deakin’s Professor of Behavioural and Social Research in Diabetes and Foundation Director of The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes.

Researchers at the Centre conducted a pre-campaign national survey of over 1000 Australian adults, to provide a baseline assessment for the campaign evaluation and to inform Diabetes Australia’s media strategy.

The project was led by Deakin Research Fellow Dr Jessica Browne, who said that Australians underestimate the prevalence and seriousness of diabetes as a chronic condition.

“Many of the people surveyed knew someone with diabetes and 10 per cent had diabetes themselves,” she said. “The research showed that we have a lot of work to do, in terms of engaging and educating the community.”

Professor Speight added that misconceptions can have an impact on how people manage their condition and how they feel about it.

“It is important that people with diabetes and those around them realise it is a serious condition, and it can be challenging to manage it well. But there is plenty of support available if they need it," she said.

Prof Speight added that some risk factors are modifiable and people can lower their risk for type 2 diabetes by losing weight, increasing activity, healthy eating, lowering blood pressure and not smoking. However, other risk factors can't be changed, such as family history, age, or ethnic background.

“Complications can be prevented (and sometimes reversed) by maintaining optimal blood glucose levels and attending regular health check-ups,” she said.

All types of diabetes are serious and all types can lead to complications, if they are not managed well. Most people these days know someone who has type 2 diabetes.

"We can all support our family and friends who have diabetes by encouraging them to self-manage their diabetes as best they can; to set realistic blood glucose targets and not view lapses as a sign of failure; to take their medications as recommended; and to seek out information and support services if things are becoming too frustrating or distressing."

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Deakin Research Fellow Dr Jessica Browne. Deakin Research Fellow Dr Jessica Browne.

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