Australian diabetics and cholesterol sufferers unaware of conditions

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cholesterol Obesity Diabetes

Australian diabetics and cholesterol sufferers unaware of conditions
New figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics make for surprising reading, showing that the majority of Australians lack awareness of food-related conditions, even when they suffer from them. 

Dr Paul Jelfs, head of the Social, Health & Labour Division at the ABS, said the results from the Australian Health Survey have an important insight into Australia's health. 

One report even showed that around one in five adults with diabetes did not know they had the condition. 

"We know from our survey that around 4% of Australian adults have been told they have diabetes. The voluntary blood test results showed that an extra 1% had diabetes but were not previously aware of it. This suggests that there was around one newly diagnosed case of diabetes for every four diagnosed cases​," said Jelfs. 

"The results also showed that a further three per cent of adults were at high risk of diabetes. This means that there werean extra three people at high risk of diabetes for every four people who had been diagnosed​.

"In 2011-12, people who were obese were seven times as likely as those who were of normal weight or underweight to have the condition​."

The results also revealed that many people with diabetes also had signs of other chronic conditions. Nearly one in four people with diabetes had albuminuria, an early indicator of kidney disease, and around half had lower than normal levels of good cholesterol.

Bad cholesterol

Other results showed that one in three Australian adults had high total cholesterol levels, yet only one in every 10 people within the group actually knew they had it.

The range of cardiovascular tests in the survey showed that the majority of Australians aged 45 and over were at risk of heart disease. 

"They were either taking cholesterol-lowering medication, or their blood test results showed that they had one or more of high total cholesterol, high 'bad' cholesterol, low 'good' cholesterol or high triglycerides​,” said Jelfs.

"Interestingly, the picture was not much brighter for younger people, with nearly half of those aged under 45 having at least one of these risk factors​." 

Obesity just the start

The survey also found that obese people were five times more likely to have fats in the blood, and more than twice as likely to have lower than normal levels of good cholesterol - both significant factors for cardiovascular disease.

"Worryingly, many younger obese adults showed signs of cardiovascular disease. One in every three obese people aged under 45 had high total cholesterol. This was twice the rate for people aged 18 to 44 years who were of normal weight or underweight​," said Jelfs. 

The survey also showed that obesity was a major risk factor for other chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and liver disease. In 2011-12, obese adults were seven times more likely to have diabetes and four times more likely to have signs of liver disease than normal weight or underweight adults.

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