AUSTRALIANS living in regional areas are 33% more likely to suffer from preventable diabetes than those living in the city, prompting a call on Monday for a national approach to the disease.
Diabetes Queensland chief executive Michelle Trute called for $580 million to be spent on a national type two diabetes prevention program.
The program would help educate people, particularly those in regional areas, about how to change their lifestyles to reduce the risk of getting type two diabetes.
"We can prevent head injuries, traffic deaths and drownings - and we do. We can also prevent type two diabetes, so why aren't we?" she said.
"Up to 60% of all cases of type two diabetes are preventable through lifestyle intervention and education.
"Queenslanders must be given the best possible chance to avoid the condition, which can lead to serious complications like heart disease, eye disease, kidney disease and nerve damage."
National Diabetes Week began on Sunday, in an effort to raise awareness of a disease that affects more than 300,000 Queenslanders, with more than 2 million people at high risk of type two diabetes across the nation.
The proposed national approach would include training and certifying health providers; creating a national helpline (similar to quit smoking line Quitline) and creating a social communication campaign to help people understand the risks of diabetes.
While people cannot prevent type one diabetes, type two diabetes is a lifestyle condition closely related to obesity and a lack of regular exercise.
"You only have to look around to confirm the fact that more than half of Queensland adults are overweight - every second Queensland adult has a waist circumference that places them at risk of developing a chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes," Ms Trute said.
"The recent pandemic report released by Diabetes Australia shows that if the epidemic of obesity was eliminated from the population, incidence of type 2 diabetes could be reduced by up to 38% in men and 47% in women."
"The good news is, even a small step toward a healthier life can make a big difference.
"Those at high risk of diabetes who commit to 30 minutes of walking five times a week, and lower their intake of fats and kilojoules, can reduce their risk of being diagnosed by up to 58%."
Federal Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek was unavailable for comment.
Regional diabetes facts
- People in regional areas are 33% more likely than city residents to be obese - the biggest cause of type two diabetes.
- People in remote areas pay higher prices for health food than those in major cities.
- The mean cost of a standard basket of healthy food in Queensland rose by about $44 (9%) from 2006 to 2010.
- People in very remote areas of the state pay about $128 more (26%) for their healthy trolley than people in major cities.
- The prevalence of diabetes or high blood sugar was up to 54% higher in the more disadvantaged areas of Queensland.
Source: Healthy Food Access Basket Survey 2011 and Self Reported Health Status 2011, Queensland Chief Health Officer.