Diabetes is growing at epidemic rates around the world, Diabetes Australia CEO Professor Greg Johnson had told The Newsroom.
Professor Johnson was promoting the World Health Organisation’s World Health Day campaign to raise awareness about diabetes. The WHO has issued a report detailing the growth of diabetes and the campaign to defeat it.
“The epidemic continues to grow at alarming rates affecting all nations of the world [but] disadvantaged people and poorer people in our communities are much more affected by diabetes.”
The myth that Type 2 diabetes was a disease of affluence was disproved, he said, by the fact that the vast burden of Type 2 diabetes fell on the poor and developing nations.
“Diabetes continues to be underestimated as a problem. You look at the community awareness of health issues and many other issues rate much more highly on people’s minds and agendas.” Because of that it was important to raise recognition of diabetes as “probably the biggest health threat to the world in the 21st century”.
Prof Johnson said it was time Australia considered introducing a tax on sugar, following the lead of countries such as the UK and Mexico.
People did not realise, when drinking sweetened beverages that those drinks each contained 6 to 10 teaspoons of sugar.
“There is a strong link between [that] high consumption and the development of Type 2 diabetes… If we tax those things it would certainlybe based on evidence, it will reduce consumption. just like putting higher taxes on cigarettes is reducing smoking.
“Putting a higher tax on sugary things would reduce consumption so that would be a good thing.”
Diabetes is the biggest cause of blindness in working age adults and a major cause of kidney failure, he told The Newsroom.
“The private sector should recognise that diabetes is a big threat to employers and their workforces and their health. The biggest problem with this is it is often hidden and silent. You can’t see it happening…”
He said the World Health Day campaign was a call to all governments around the world to ensure they respond to diabetes. The promotion is also a call for donations to help fund research to find a cure and end the threat. – Jesse Mullens
Photo of Professor Greg Johnson from the Diabetes Australia website.