Diabetes Australia's latest campaign aims to compare Australians' fears of sharks, spiders and scary clowns with the threat of type 2 diabetes.
A new Newspoll survey shows that nearly 80% of Australians don't think they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes despite evidence that over 2 million Australians already have pre-diabetes and are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson said that the threat of developing type 2 diabetes is very real. 'What many people don't realise is that type 2 diabetes doesn't just affect older people or those who are overweight or obese. Type 2 diabetes can affect anyone. It is a serious and complex condition. Many people don't take the type 2 diabetes risk seriously."
Professor Johnson highlighted that there is also good news. 'If people do the risk test and find that they are at high risk, we can do something about it, we can offer type 2 diabetes prevention programs that may prevent or delay type 2 diabetes in up to 60 per cent of cases through sustained lifestyle modification – losing weight, eating a healthy diet and exercising more," he said.
The new -You think this is scary?' campaign uses strong images to make Australians reassess what they consider a personal threat.
The Gruen Transfer commentator Dan Gregory, who has type 2 diabetes, said that fear campaigns work. 'Fear is one of the most powerful motivators when it comes to human behaviour, the problem is, our fears often don't reflect reality. You think this is scary? Sets out to challenge our fears and remind us that type 2 diabetes is something we really should be more concerned about."
We know that the number of people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes is scary. The number of people diagnosed every day is scary, but the financial burden on the health system is equally frightening.
Health economist at the Centre for Health Policy, School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne, Professor Philip Clarke said that the burden of diabetes isn't just a personal one – the economic effects are huge. 'The health care cost of a person with diabetes is between $10,000 to $15,000 per year which is considerably higher than those of the average Australian. By preventing and treating type 2 diabetes now, many more Australians will live to see their grandkids."
Diabetes Australia is the national body for people affected by all types of diabetes and those at risk, and is committed to reducing the impact of diabetes working in partnership with consumers, health professionals and researchers.
About the campaign: Diabetes Australia's campaign exposes that the real threat to Australians is their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Australians can visit the campaign website to check their risk at www.checkmyrisk.org.au or call 1300 136 588 for further information about diabetes. They can also spread the word and encourage friends and family to take the risk test by using the hashtag #NDW14 on social media. Campaign imagery, in-depth case studies and further information is also available on the website.
About the research: According to a recent Newspoll survey, nearly 77 per cent of Australians don't think they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the next few years, 7.3 per cent already know they have diabetes and 13.8 per cent recognise they will probably develop type 2 diabetes in the next few years.
Question: What's the idea behind the new Diabetes Australia's latest campaign which aims to compare Australians' fears of sharks, spiders and scary clowns with the threat of type 2 diabetes?
Prof Greg Johnson: The new You think this is scary? campaign uses strong images to encourage Australians to reassess what they consider a risk or threat to their health or their family. Our research shows that 80% of Australians do not think they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Yet the majority of Australians will have at least one risk factor and over 2 million people are at high risk. Also, many people think type 2 diabetes only affects older people yet increasingly it affects younger adults and even kids.
Most Australians don't understand that type 2 diabetes is a serious and complex condition that can cause serious health complications and reduce life expectancy. Assess your risk at www.checkmyrisk.org.au
Question: Can you talk us through the threat of Diabetes in Australia?
Prof Greg Johnson: 280 Australians develop diabetes every day and most of it is type 2 diabetes. An estimated 1.7 million Australians have diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is serious and people are at greater risk of heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure, amputations and blindness.
Question: What is pre-diabetes?
Prof Greg Johnson: Impaired fasting glucose (IFG) and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) are conditions where blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. The term -pre-diabetes' is often used to describe these conditions.
People with pre-diabetes have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Question: What is the difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes?
Prof Greg Johnson: Diabetes Mellitus (Diabetes) is the name given to a group of conditions that occurs when the level of glucose (a type of sugar) in the blood becomes higher than normal. Read more about the types of diabetes here: http://diabetesaustralia.com.au/Understanding-Diabetes/What-is-Diabetes/
Question: Who is at high risk of diabetes in Australia?
Prof Greg Johnson: There are many different risk factors for type 2 diabetes and the more of these you have, the greater your risk:
you are inactive
someone in your family (mother, father, brother, sister) has type 2 diabetes
you are overweight/ obese or are carrying extra weight around your waist
you have pre-diabetes
you have high blood pressure, abnormal blood fats (cholesterol) or cardiovascular disease
you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
you are from another country, those at greater risk include people from Pacific Islander, Southern European, Middle Eastern, Northern African and Southern Asian backgrounds.
you have had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes)
Question: What is the risk test? Where can we take this test?
Prof Greg Johnson: The Risk Assessment Tool (AUSDRISK Tool) is a quick standardised test which can help you determine if you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the next 5 years.
The AUSDRISK Tool has 10 questions about age, cultural background and lifestyle which give you a score to assess your risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the next 5 years. If you score 12 or more you are at high risk.
You can take the risk assessment at www.checkmyrisk.org.au
Question: How can Australians prevent diabetes?
Prof Greg Johnson: Prevention for those at high risk of type 2 diabetes is proven, possible and powerful.
Randomised controlled studies around the world have shown that type 2 diabetes can be prevented in up to 58 per cent of people at high risk by intensive lifestyle behaviour change programs.
Find out more about diabetes prevention programs in your area:
VIC: visit Life! or call 13 RISK (13 7475)
NSW: visit BEAT IT or call 1300 DIABETES (1300 342 238)
WA: visit My Health Balance or call 08 9325 7699
ACT: visit Diabetes ACT or call 1300 136 588
QLD: visit Diabetes QLD or call 1300 136 588
TAS: visit Diabetes TAS or call 03 6215 9000
Question: What do you hope to achieve from the new campaign?
Prof Greg Johnson: Our objective is to increase public awareness of the seriousness, draw attention to the increasing numbers of Australians developing the condition, and promote the -good news' story that type 2 diabetes can be prevented in up to 58 per cent of cases.
Interview by Brooke Hunter
Photo by Jorge de Araujo