New Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study released

The type 2 diabetes epidemic continues to impact on Australians' health with the latest result ofThe Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab)revealing a 40 per cent increased mortality for people with type 2 diabetes. This is roughly the same as the increased mortality risk found amongst smokers.


The AusDiab study highlights the seriousness of a number of chronic diseases including type 2 diabetes as well as a key contributing factor: obesity.


Co-Chief Investigator and Associate Director of Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute Professor Jonathon Shaw, said the study highlighted the need for more comprehensive action from both the community and government.


"Early intervention with intensive lifestyle changes in people with pre-diabetes can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by nearly 60 per cent over a three-year period, and is estimated to produce a lifetime healthcare cost saving of around $1087 per person," Professor Shaw said.


"Preventive campaigns around smoking are having an impact in the community and it is imperative that more is done in the area of diabetes. Like smoking, diabetes presents an opportunity to have a significant impact, to greatly improve the health of our communities and equally important, to reduce mortality rates."


Other key findings in the study included:


  • More than 30 per cent of people with  type 2 diabetes had seen a GP three times or more in the previous three months compared to 16 per cent of people with no diabetes and 17 per cent of people with pre-diabetes
  • Around 12 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes had spent two nights or more in hospital in the previous three months compared to six to seven per cent of people with diabetes or pre-diabetes
  •  Incidence of type 2 diabetes is five times higher in people who are obese and twice as high in people who are overweight. 


The study also found a worrying trend for significant weight gain amongst young people in the 25 - 34 years age bracket.


"The trend for greater weight gain amongst people aged 25 - 34 is very concerning and suggests Australia still does not recognise the serious health risks associated with being overweight or obese," Professor Shaw said.


He pointed to gun control, smoking and water restrictions as examples of areas where the community had embraced behaviour change.


"On the one hand, we need to encourage and support people to make healthier lifestyle choices by providing the right incentives and on the other, we need to apply appropriate measures to discourage behaviours that lead to poor health and increased pressures on the health budget," he said.


 "At this stage, I think everything should be on the table - taxation levers, town planning, even the layout of office spaces needs to be reconsidered to tackle the growing personal and community impact of chronic disease," Professor Shaw said.


The AusDiab baseline study was conducted in 1999 - 2000 and provided benchmark national data on the prevalence of diabetes, obesity, hypertension and kidney disease in Australia. The follow-up surveys, undertaken five and 12 years after the baseline study, have provided an opportunity to assess the increasing rates of prevalence of these conditions.


The study has been conducted by the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, an independent, internationally renowned medical research facility. The Institute's work extends from the laboratory to wide-scale community studies with a focus on diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. For more information, visit:


You can read the study in-depth here.

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