Tackling diabetes one suburb at a time

The Western Sydney Diabetes community forum aimed to raise awareness of diabetes in the local region.

More than 110 people attended the recent Western Sydney Diabetes community forum at Rooty Hill RSL Club, to find out more about how to tackle type 2 diabetes.

This is the third forum that has been held across western Sydney so far, with previous forums held in Blacktown and Toongabbie.

Held on World Diabetes Day (November 14), the forum aimed to raise awareness of diabetes in an effort to tackle the epidemic in western Sydney.

Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) senior endocrinologist, Professor Glen Maberly, heads the team at Western Sydney Diabetes, who are working to uncover cases of undiagnosed diabetes and help the community to better manage the disease.

“If you live in western Sydney, you are more likely to have diabetes than if you live in other parts of Sydney,” he said.

“More than 60 per cent of the western Sydney population is overweight and at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”

Expert speakers at the event included endocrinologists, local GPs and dietitians who shared information on diabetes and its management, as well as practical tips on how to make small lifestyle changes which could result in reducing the risk of getting diabetes and also developing complications.

The audience included residents who brought their parents or children to learn more about diabetes. Others attended because they had a family member with diabetes and wanted to learn more about how to avoid getting diabetes themselves. 

A significant proportion of people came along because of the HbA1c testing conducted at Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals, which had identified them as either having diabetes or being at high risk of developing the disease.

Thanks to Master of Ceremonies, Dr Paniani Patou, a local GP from the Blacktown Mega Centre, who chaired the event.

A number of stalls were also on show at the event where people could sign up to free local lifestyle programs.

Stall holders included Diabetes NSW&ACT, Live Life Get Active, WSLHD Bilingual Community Educator Program, Meals on Wheels, Support Me, Heart Foundation Walking Groups and New Edge fitness.

Professor Maberly, said this forum was a way for health professionals to listen to the community to better understand what support was needed to beat diabetes.       

“Diabetes is a complex problem and there is no easy solution to solve it,” Prof Maberly said. 

“Our community is made up of an array of diverse cultural backgrounds, so we are working hard to ensure our approach to diabetes prevention and management is flexible to suit the needs of specific groups and individuals.

“We are keen to actively work with residents so we can beat diabetes together.”

Type 2 diabetes can be silent and people can live with the disease for up to seven years without knowing it.

Early detection and early treatment are key to helping people to live well with diabetes.

You may be at risk of type 2 diabetes if you are an adult who:

  • Has a family history of diabetes;
  • Has an inactive lifestyle;
  • Is overweight;
  • Is from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background; or
  • Has a Pacific Island, Indian subcontinent or Chinese cultural background. 

To find out more about diabetes, or to see if you are at risk of developing the disease, please speak with your local General Practitioner