Type 2 Diabetes – We understand and are here to help

The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies chronic diseases as the most prominent cause of disability and death worldwide, which includes Type 2 Diabetes (T2D), a lifestyle disease that is continuing to increase over time (WHO 2018).


The Australian Government outlined 50% of Australians in 2014-15, to have had at least one chronic disease.  Of these chronic diseases is T2D, of which almost doubled in prevalence between 1989-90 and 2004-05 and has continued to increase over time. T2D is characterised by high blood sugar as a result of insulin defects and accounts for approximately 90-95% of persons with diabetes. It is estimated 451 million adults to have had T2D worldwide in 2017 and 500 million adults in 2018, with the incidence being similar in high and low-income countries.


Diabetes is one of the major nutritionally related long-term health conditions in the Australian population.  Most recent existing statistics outline one million Australians to have T2D, with it being more prevalent in males than females. Prevalence is also higher in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population as well as lower socioeconomic areas.  Above all, however, diabetes is most prevalent in adults, with incidence beginning and then increasing from age 18, occurring predominately in persons aged 50 years and over. Consequently, the prevalence of T2D prompted the development of a National Diabetes Strategy 2016-2020, which aims to prevent, promote awareness and reduce its occurrence.


Figure 1. Schematic representation of risk factors for T2DM with convincing or highly suggestive evidence.


Determinants for T2D can be seen in figure 1, with some modifiable risk factors including lifestyle and diet.  Major dietary risk factors include regular consumption of energy dense, nutrient poor food, which is low in fibre, fruits, vegetables and wholegrains and high in refined sugars, starch and saturated fat. Regular consumption of energy dense food may lead to excess adiposity, another risk factor for T2D.


If T2D is left unmanaged, further health complications may occur due to chronic hyperglycemia. Complications include nephropathy (kidney disease), retinopathy (eye disease), neuropathy (nerve damage), heart disease, stroke and death. Currently, 50% of Australians diagnosed with T2D are not achieving their glycemic biomarker target of  <7% HbA1c, putting them at higher risk of these complications.  Furthermore, in Australia, T2D costs approximately $14.6 billion per annum for the individual and government combined. This cost could be reduced through preventing the development of T2D and its complications.


As diet and lifestyle are modifiable risk factors in the tertiary prevention and management of T2D, there is potential for intervention and improvement in the current T2D prevalence. Interventions can take place in a number of organisations and settings, such as the workplace or seminars, as part of the Diabetes Strategy for 2016-2020.


Nutrition education can improve dietary behaviours in those with T2D, and the value of hands-on activities and group education around this is largely underrated. Programs are also effective when they encompass positive relationships with health educators, dietary education, social support, health care affordability and a follow-up systems.


Additionally, those involved in the diagnosis and management of TD2 include health care professionals such as doctors, dietitians, endocrinologists, exercise specialists, therapists and pharmacists.


In conclusion, dietary modification has been identified as an important modifiable factor in the tertiary prevention and management of T2D and provides the foundation of treatment, helping to control and improve blood glucose and avoid further health complications caused by mismanagement of diabetes.


If you have Type 2 diabetes and are seeking further education, nutrition advice and/or support then don’t hesitate to reach out to us at The Chief Life.

Amanda de Souza
Amanda de Souza

My health and fitness journey began in 2012 and although I am still a work in progress I am learning more every day and want to educate others as much as I can. Follow more great advice from Amanda on Instagram.