National Diabetes Week: Tackling big issue in western Sydney hotspot

According to NSW Health, the prevalence of diabetes in western Sydney adults is estimated to be 13%, a rate that has been increasing for more than a decade.

Characterised by elevated blood glucose levels due to insufficient insulin production or inefficient insulin usage, diabetes can lead to long-term complications affecting the heart, kidneys, eyes, and feet by causing damage to blood vessels and nerves.

National Diabetes Week 2023 runs from 9 to 15 July, and the team from Western Sydney Diabetes (WSD) will be spending it at Workers Blacktown, raising awareness about diabetes detection and prevention.

During National Diabetes Week, the WSD team will run various activities aimed at educating the community about the high incidence of type 2 diabetes in western Sydney, prevention strategies, and early detection methods.

These activities include:

  • Detection program; Monday to Friday (July 10 to 14) 9.30am to 4pm
  • The launch of free weekly line dancing lessons for beginners; Wednesday (July 12) 2.30pm
  • A cooking demonstration; Thursday (July 13) 11am to 12.30pm

Outside of National Diabetes Week, WSD runs a diabetes detection program at Workers Blacktown twice a month for its members and guests.

Since its inception in January, the program has detected that more than half of the participants entering the club have HbA1c suggestive of prediabetes and diabetes, and alarmingly, half of the participants with prediabetes were not aware. 

WSD Prevention Manager Janine Dawson said together with the support from the club, WSD’s work in prevention has gone “to a new level”.

“We have worked together and learnt from the members what kinds of lifestyle programs are of most interest and the club has made them happen,” Ms Dawson said.

“Through our activities we can help people understand what actions should be taken to hopefully avoid diabetes and we’re keen to expand our efforts within the community.”

WSD is encouraging adults to go to the club and get a HbA1c blood test if they:

  • Have a family history of diabetes;
  • Have an inactive lifestyle;
  • Are overweight or obese;
  • Had diabetes during a pregnancy; or
  • Have a Pacific Island, Indian subcontinent, African, Asian, South Asian, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island background.

“Once you know you have diabetes you need to make sure you are getting regular HbA1c tests and working with your GP to ensure you are using the most up to date medications and keeping your blood sugars under control,” WSD Director Prof Glen Maberly said.

“But you can prevent diabetes if you act early, simply through increased physical activity, a healthy diet and losing weight.

Western Sydney Changing Diabetes recently won the health category at the ClubsNSW Club and Community Awards.

During National Diabetes Week, Director Professor Glen Maberly will also be a panellist on Diabetes Australia’s Great Debate Series, discussing Timely and affordable access: Who cares? 

More information and resources from Western Sydney Diabetes can be found here.