Northam diabetes rates higher than state average

Grave condition: Northam residents have been warned to take their health more seriously, with 6.5 per cent of the population living with diabetes.
Grave condition: Northam residents have been warned to take their health more seriously, with 6.5 per cent of the population living with diabetes.

Northam has a higher rate of diabetes than the state and national averages, with an expert urging our community to “take their health more seriously.”

Ahead of National Diabetes Week, which runs from July 8-14, statistics indicate the disease is prevalent in the Peel region.

Data shows 6.5 per cent of Northam residents have either type 1 or 2 diabetes. The national average is 5.1 per cent, while the state average is 4.4 per cent.

Diabetes WA clinical services manager Rebecca Flavel said lifestyle choices were a key reason for people being diagnosed with the disease.

“Where the rates are higher, we find there are more takeaway outlets and sometimes less infrastructure to encourage people to exercise, which makes it hard for those residents to make healthy choices,” she said.

“I think ultimately people have to take their own health more seriously and take diabetes seriously. People need to take personal responsibility.

“The fear is letting diabetes become a normalised condition. It is something that is preventable. A weight loss of five to ten per cent for most people can stop or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.”

Ms Flavel said there were certain factors, such as genetics and age, that were outwith people’s control and played a role in the diagnosis of diabetes

Symptoms of type 1 diabetes include being thirsty, going to the toilet more regularly, being tired and losing weight.

While type 2 diabetes is more difficult to identify, early detection can make a tangible difference in the person’s life.

“Type 2 diabetes can be quite a silent condition with the symptoms harder to pick up – many people have the condition without knowing it for as long as five to ten years,” Ms Flavel said.

“Complications of diabetes are the same whether it is type 1 or 2 – it is the effect of having higher glucose in your blood for many years. 

“Concerning complications include heart disease or heart attacks and strokes, nerve damage, vision loss and kidney damage.

“However, if people are diagnosed early they can do something about it and delay and prevent the progression of type 2 diabetes.”

Diabetes WA are holding a one-day workshop for people with type 2 diabetes in Northam on July 25.

To book a place or to get more information and support, contact the Diabetes WA helpline and speak to an educator on 1300 001 880.