Diabetes is likely one of the most common chronic diseases in modern Australia, with 1.2 million people across the nation now living with it, according to the World Health Organisation. This in itself is a troubling number, and it is not an Australia-only problem; it is a global concern. However, what is even more worrying is the apparent acceleration of this issue, as Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson explains:
"In the last decade, the number of people diagnosed annually has been increasing but 2014 was the first time we topped 100,000, and the 2015 figures are a grim reminder that we are not making progress," he said in a April 7 media release.
"This is in contrast to some other chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease and some cancers where we are seeing a reduction in the burden of these as prevention, treatment and management improves."
Professor Johnson goes on to describe how there are potentially hundreds of thousands of Australians who are suffering silently, without an official diagnosis of type 2 diabetes – often only discovering the disease when coming in for co-morbid reasons such as heart attack and stroke.
With over 4,400 diabetes-related amputations every year according to Diabetes Australia, there is clearly something of an epidemic of this preventable disease sweeping the nation – and it could be putting a strain on our public health system. Thankfully, there are a number of methods available to average Australians, businesses and governments that could help to prevent this ticking time bomb.
"2014 was the first time we topped 100,000."
It is best to catch this issue early, particularly when there are children at risk. Diabetes status in mothers has already been linked to increased chances of children developing type 2, and there is ongoing research investigating the father's link as well. With this in mind, the first step that any person concerned about diabetes should make is to check their own likelihood of developing it.
As discussed, there are a large number of Australians who could have diabetes without knowing it, and this lack of knowledge could end up affecting their children as well. While family health insurance can certainly help mitigate the damage, it is better to be proactive than reactive. Self-awareness is the first step towards that.
Some people are at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, such as those who are over the age of 55 or are already suffering from issues such as obesity and high blood pressure, but even young people can develop this problematic issue.
Thankfully, the lifestyle changes required to help prevent diabetes are much the same as regular healthy living: consistent exercise, a reduction in calorie intake and losing some weight if necessary. Some private health insurance plans will even provide a benefit towards a health management programme, or provide access to coaching programmes and lifestyle information to give you the opportunity to live in a healthier manner. It's good for your health as well as reducing the burden on the public health system, so there are plenty of reasons to investigate your options.
There is little reason not to alleviate at least a part of the sedentary part of your position.
While prevention certainly starts at home, it continues at work. The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that, on average, about a quarter of an Australian adult's sedentary behaviour occurs at work. That becomes even more significant if you are a driver, a professional, a manager or an administrative worker.
A lack of exercise causes a whole host of issues, including obesity, but it has also been linked with a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes. If your workplace already has features such as standing desks, make use of them. If not, it may be time to suggest them to your colleagues and/or management. A healthier workplace tends to be a more productive workplace, and with the number of health-based technologies currently available, there is little reason not to alleviate at least a part of the sedentary nature of your position.
Lastly, an extensive corporate health plan may very well cover your needs if you are already a sufferer of either kind of diabetes, or could support you in your attempts to prevent it as well. In either case, read up on your current policy or, if you are responsible for your enterprise's current insurance, compare your current plan and ensure you are providing the most suitable cover for the employees.
Beat diabetes wherever you are
With the right attitude and the right knowledge, diabetes is preventable in a number of cases, according to Diabetes Australia. Private health insurance isn't just about reacting to the damage, it's often about keeping you out of danger in the first place.
If you are looking to update your personal or corporate insurance to assist you in the fight against this chronic disease, make sure you get in touch with HICA on 1300 44 22 01 to find out what options are available for you or your enterprise.