The heads-up on living with diabetes


12 July 2021

Diabetes remains one of the health profession’s most pressing issues, responsible for thousands of deaths in Australia every year.

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults, is a leading cause of kidney failure, remains the leading cause of preventable limb amputations (about 4,400 in Australia a year) and increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes by up to four times.
It is also a cause of great stress, anxiety and burnout.

The World Health Organization reports that deaths from diabetes – one of the top 10 killers globally - increased by 70% worldwide between 2000 and 2019, with an 80% rise in deaths among males.

This week is National Diabetes Week (July 11-17) with Diabetes Australia continuing its ‘Heads Up’ campaign focusing on the mental and emotional health of people living with diabetes. This year the spotlight is on diabetes stigma and mental health. 
    • More than 4 in 5 people with diabetes have experienced diabetes stigma. 
    • Nearly 50 per cent of people with diabetes have experienced mental health challenges in the last 12 months. 

Diabetes Australia says stigma affects all aspects of life for people with diabetes, including their mental health and wellbeing.  

People experience diabetes stigma when they are blamed for having diabetes, while managing diabetes such as injecting insulin in public and when they experience the affects and complications of diabetes such as low blood sugar.
Tomorrow evening Diabetes Australia will be hosting a live Facebook ‘Heads Together’ forum, touted as Australia’s biggest online discussion about mental health and diabetes stigma. People can register to attend on the Facebook event page:

Diabetes Australia reports that:
    • 280 Australians develop diabetes every day. That’s one person every five minutes;
    • More than 100,000 Australians have developed diabetes in the past year;
    • Around 1.8 million Australians have diabetes. This includes all types of diagnosed diabetes (1.3 million known and registered) as well as silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes (up to 500,000 estimated); 
    • For every person diagnosed with diabetes there is usually a family member or carer who also ‘lives with diabetes’ every day in a support role. This means that an estimated 2.4 million Australians are affected by diabetes every day;
    • Total annual cost impact of diabetes in Australia is estimated at $14.6 billion.

In 2017, diabetes contributed to around 17,000 Australian deaths with more than half of these, 55 per cent, due to preventable type-two diabetes. Obesity and being overweight is the major risk with type-two diabetes.
Earlier this year an international study found low-carb diets could help put type-two diabetes into remission.

After a six month period, patients whose daily calorie intake was less than 26 per cent carbs had higher rates of remission than people on diets traditionally recommended for managing the disease, such as low fat diets.

CSIRO professor Grant Brinkworth, who contributed to the research, said patients who adhered to low carb diets had the greatest health improvements.

"Building on existing research, this study underscores that a low carb diet can achieve greater weight loss and is more effective in reducing diabetes medication and improving blood glucose control," he said.

"However, this study has gone one step further in showing the low carb dietary approach to be effective in driving type-two diabetes into remission."

The paper, published in the British Medical Journal, came to the conclusion after examining 23 diabetes studies involving almost 1400 participants.

For more information about National Diabetes Week and diabetes generally visit The National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) Helpline is 1800 637 700.