Easy Guide to Diabetes

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is the world's fastest growing chronic disease. It currently affects 246 million people worldwide and this number is expected to rise to 380 million by 2025. Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of global death by disease. At least 50% of all people with Type 2 Diabetes are unaware of their condition. In some countries this figure may reach 80%. Up to 60% of Type 2 Diabetes is preventable by adopting a healthy diet and increasing physical activity.

This is particularly true of the Baby Boomer generation. On the positive side, this generation are generally more likely to be motivated to be more active than past generations at this time of their lives, so lowering the risk.  

Type 2 is the most common form of diabetes, affecting 85-90% of all people with diabetes, usually affecting older adults. In Type 2 Diabetes, the pancreas makes some insulin but it is not produced in the amount your body needs and it does not work effectively. Type 2 diabetes results from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Although there is a strong genetic predisposition, the risk is greatly increased when associated with lifestyle factors such as high blood pressure, overweight or obesity, insufficient physical activity, poor diet and the classic 'apple shape' body where extra weight is carried around the waist. Type 2 diabetes can often initially be managed with healthy eating and regular physical activity. However, over time most people with Type 2 Diabetes will also need tablets and many will also need insulin. It is important to note that this is just the natural progression of the disease, and taking tablets or insulin as soon as they are required can result in fewer complications in the long-term. There is currently no cure for Type 2 Diabetes.

We have independently chosen to review information and literature available from Diabetes Australia and Government websites.

 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 per cent of diabetes cases could be prevented, or at least delayed, by people maintaining a healthy weight. The main keys to long-term weight loss and reducing your waist measurement are healthy eating and regular physical activity.


The Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool (AUSDRISK)

Many Australians, particularly those over 40, are at risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes through lifestyle factors such as nutrition and physical activity. Family history and genetics also play a role in Type 2 Diabetes.

'High risk' is determined following completion of the Australian Type 2 Diabetes risk assessment tool and its review by a doctor.

Healthy Eating

The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, the national food selection guide, provides consumers, health and education professionals and the food industry with information about the amounts and types of food that need to be eaten each day to get enough of the nutrients essential for good health and well-being. The Guide is designed to suit most healthy people but may not be appropriate for people with certain health problems. If you want advice that is individualised just for you, you should see a dietitian.

A diet consistent with the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating recommends people consume a variety of foods across and within the five food groups and avoid foods that contain too much added fat, salt and sugar. The Guide aims to promote healthy eating habits throughout life, which will assist in reducing the risk of health problems in later life, such as heart disease, obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.

The Guide aims to encourage the consumption of a variety of foods from each of the five food groups every day in proportions that are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Australians. The five foods groups are:

• Bread, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles
• Vegetables, legumes
• Fruit
• Milk, yoghurt, cheese
• Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, legumes.

It is expected that small amounts of unsaturated fats and oils will be consumed with breads and cereals but additional fats and foods such as cakes, biscuits, hot chips and sugary drinks should be consumed only occasionally.

Recommended daily servings table


Keeping Active

Everybody benefits from regular exercise. If you are at risk of diabetes it plays an important role in keeping you healthy.

Suitable Types of Exercise

Suitable types of exercise depend on the individual. Here are some suggestions for you to discuss with your doctor:

• Walking
• Swimming
• Dancing
• Water aerobics
• Gardening
• Golfing
• Cycling
• Exercise bike
• Walking machine.

Increasing your general physical activity is also helpful, e.g. taking the stairs instead of the lift, getting up to change the TV station instead of using the remote control, housework, and gardening.

Amount of Exercise

Ideally, you should be doing about 30 minutes of exercise every day. If this is not possible, then this time can be divided in 3 x 10 minutes sessions.

Intensity of Exercise

You do not need to puff to gain the benefits of exercise. Aim for moderate intensity. This means you should still be able to talk as you exercise without becoming breathless.

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