Change4Life Big change is heading to Western Sydney
Professor Glen Maberly’s mission is to halt the type 2 tsunami in Western Sydney
At least 10 per cent of Australians have diabetes with up to 90 per cent of those dealing with type 2. Within that, Western Sydney is a “diabetes hotspot” with 1.5 times higher rates of type 2 than the rest of the country. Professor Glen Maberly and his team at Western Sydney Diabetes
(WSD) are leading the crusade to find an effective solution for this high-risk population. “Our goals are to get our population to lose an average of two kilos, and bring the prevalence of diabetes and high blood glucose in Western Sydney to less than the state average within five years,” says Prof. Maberly.
Interception is key
Prevention and screening programs are critical in halting the rising diabetes rates. Along with numerous other initiatives including support groups, WSD puts people in touch with phone and online health coaching programs and is working on educating the public about the gravity of type 2. “Diabetes is the most expensive thing in our health system and is the leading cause of heart attacks, strokes, blindness and amputations,” says Prof. Maberly.
He stresses that simple actions can be taken to help prevent type 2 such as returning to a healthier weight. Between 1995 and 2012, Australia’s national average weight increased four kilos. “If people at risk lose two kilos then 30 per cent won’t get diabetes,” says Prof. Maberly. “It seems amazing but you don’t lose muscle; you lose two kilos of fat.”
In mid-2017, WSD started their long-term prevention plan in the City of Blacktown that will be rolled out to the rest of Western Sydney. GPs have started walking groups, and schools are growing fresh vegie gardens to teach students about healthy eating. WSD is also talking to governments, councils, businesses and other organisations about improving the region so fresh food and exercise spaces are more accessible. It’s a big job but WSD is committed.
So, what does that look like? Screening for high risk
Hospitalbased services Enhanced patient, general practice and allied health diabetes management.
“There is a tsunami of diabetes coming and if we only focus on the curative side it’s like mopping up water that is flowing from a tap,” says Prof. Maberly. “We’re trying to turn off the tap.”