Diabetes figures soaring in Bundy

BUNDABERG'S aging population and low socio-economic status is believed to be behind a significant increase in the number of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

According to Diabetes Australia, cases of Type 2 diabetes in the Bundaberg region had risen steadily from 4.11% of the population in 2007 to 5.69% in 2011.

In the North Burnett, the situation was even worse, with a jump from 3.53% to 5.16% of the population.

Diabetes Queensland chief executive Michelle Trute said new research maps showed diabetes was more prevalent in regions with lower income, higher obesity and an aging population.

"With more than 60% of Queensland adults now overweight or obese, this is the main driver of the epidemic," Ms Trute said.

"The new maps also show the link between low income and high diabetes rates."

Ms Trute said the disease was even more common in the indigenous population.

"Most indigenous communities have high Type 2 diabetes rates and low income," she said.

"Indigenous communities are at the forefront of the diabetes epidemic, many with rates that are two to three times the state average of 4%."

GP Links Wide Bay diabetes educator Janelle Anderson said she was not surprised by the figures.

"We are seeing increases in the numbers of people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes," Mrs Anderson said.

"People from lower socio-economic areas can find it quite hard to engage in strategies to change their life styles."

Mrs Anderson said the increasing figures would put strain on the health system.

"It's a worry. We don't have enough health professionals to help with education or health care," she said.

"We're definitely worried long term about the financial and staff burdens this is creating."

Mrs Anderson said elderly people who were diagnosed with diabetes were not at fault.

"It is a natural part of the aging process," she said.

"But in the younger generation we're seeing these lifestyle factors such as weight gain and lack of exercise become a problem.

"It's all to do with energy in and energy out."

Are you at risk?

In Australia, nearly two-thirds of men and half of all women are overweight or obese.

This is a key factor in the alarming rise of Type 2 diabetes.

Yet up to 60% of diabetes cases could be prevented, or at least delayed, by people maintaining a healthy weight.

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