Diet, exercise focus for National Diabetes Awareness Week


diabetes: three women exercising in a park

During National Diabetes Awareness Week 2015, which runs from 12 to 18 July, WentWest – the Western Sydney Primary Health Network – is encouraging local residents to consult their GP to discuss their health and lifestyle.

With almost 280 Australians diagnosed with the condition every day, diabetes is becoming the nation’s leading burden of disease. Western Sydney is considered to be a diabetes “hot-spot” with over 200,000 people, or a quarter of the population likely to have diabetes or pre-diabetes.

By 2025, it has been estimated that the frequency of diabetes in the region will be 204% higher in men and 147% higher in women.

With a long history of delivering healthy lifestyle initiatives, such as SHAPE to thousands of western Sydney residents, WentWest has recently launched an online program to suit busy lifestyles.

“My family history, weight and glucose levels put me at high risk of developing diabetes,” says SHAPE program participant, Marian Cabrera from Merrylands in western Sydney.

“Diabetes runs in my family and being middle-aged, I felt I needed that extra push to educate myself on healthy food options, along with an achievable exercise program that I can do at home each day.

“The eight-week SHAPE Program has delivered on this with its behaviour modification, nutrition and exercise goals, effectively teaching me how to make small, conscious and manageable lifestyle changes that I could stick with long-term.

“I lost 4kg with SHAPE and I’m pleased with the results so far, considering the knee surgery I had before joining SHAPE. I feel that I still have more goals to reach and will look to continue with the new online program”, says Ms Cabrera.

Consumers can join WentWest’s new online healthy lifestyle program at Well-Being Connect.

Meanwhile the AMA is encouraging people to use National Diabetes Week as a catalyst to maintain a physically active lifestyle to prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes.

AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, says that around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes, with Type 2 diabetes accounting for 85% of diabetes sufferers, and there could be up to 500,000 people with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes.

“Research shows that exercising and eating well can prevent up to 58% of type 2 diabetes cases, and it doesn’t have to be extreme or exhausting exercise,” Prof Owler says.

Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines recommend people should be participating in at least 2.5 hours of moderate or 1.25 hours of vigorous physical activity every week.

Professor Owler says that while everyone should try and be physically active on most days, the biggest gains are made by those people who transition from being sedentary to undertaking the recommended amounts of physical activity.

“Initially this can be done in short bursts, and can be built up over time,” Prof Owler says.

“Activity can range from going to the gym, playing sport, jogging or power walking to more moderate activity like walking the dog or taking the stairs instead of elevators or escalators.

“You don’t have to be an athlete to exercise, but it is important for everyone to undertake some form of physical activity every day.

“If people stay active and prevent weight gain, they can prevent Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”

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