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Diabetes: 100,000 Australians diagnosed this year



250,000 to 500,000 have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.

In support of World Diabetes Day (14 November), Diabetes Australia released a new report, revealing more than 100,000 Australians were diagnosed with diabetes in the past year, and calling for a comprehensive plan from the government to address this national epidemic.

Diabetes Australia's State of the Nation report found 100,105 Australians were diagnosed with diabetes in the last 12 months, raising the total number of diagnosed sufferers to 1.21 million.

According to the report, around one-third (400,000) of those diagnosed will develop diabetic retinopathy and damage to their eyes, while almost the same proportion need insulin injections every day.

36,198 women were diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the past year. This occurs during pregnancy when the body cannot cope with the extra demand for insulin production.

An estimated 2 million Australians have prediabetes, putting them at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 250,000 to 500,000 Aussies have undiagnosed, silent type 2 diabetes.

Of the 840,000 diabetes-related hospitalisations in the last year, 4,400 patients needed either their toes, feet or limbs amputated and a further 3,500 required kidney dialysis.

One year ago the Department of Health put forward the Australian National Diabetes Strategy 2016-2020, detailing actions taken and required to confront the rise and reach of diabetes.

While steps have been taken to improve Australia's position, Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson said federal and state governments must come together to enact a comprehensive implementation plan, setting out clear responsibilities for coordinated action.

Director of the Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders, Stephen Colagiuri, said the only way to prevent this epidemic from expanding is to stop the development of type 2 diabetes.

"We know how to do this through modest lifestyle changes but we need definitive government leadership and action to improve the food and physical activity environment to help people make the necessary changes," Colaguiuri said.

Professor of Diabetes at Monash University Paul Zimmet agrees more can be done to prevent the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in children and adolescents.

"In terms of prevention, the national strategy called on governments to address the importance of maternal and child health, particularly preconception, during pregnancy and the first few years of life as potential measures to stem the epidemic," he said.

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