The rapid rise in diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is likely to be the greatest epidemic in human history, according to researchers at the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute (Baker IDI).

Researchers at Baker IDI are working hard to understand the challenges of diabetes and which people are most at risk, in order to develop improved preventative strategies, provide better treatments and reduce the complications associated with the diabetes epidemic.

Many people have heard about the increase of type 2 diabetes in Australia, but most may not realise that it is rising at such a rapid rate that it is expected to become the most common disease in Australia by 2023 – ahead of cancer and heart disease.

The International Diabetes Federation and World Health Organization indicate that the number of people with diabetes globally will escalate from 285 million to 438 million between 2010 and 2030.

Type 2 diabetes – the most common form of diabetes – is a chronic, long-term disease marked by high levels of sugar in the blood. It occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin (a hormone released by the pancreas) or respond adequately to insulin.

Diabetes threatens to significantly impair the quality of life for millions of Australians. People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and circulation problems, or suffering lower limb amputations, nerve damage and damage to the kidneys and eyes.

Equally concerning, there are many people who already have type 2 diabetes but may not know it because they have no obvious symptoms.

Baker IDI is working to tackle this disease on a number of fronts, with the Institute’s research extending from the laboratory to wide scale community studies.

As part of its mission, Baker IDI is committed to tackling the enormous health disadvantage that exists between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australians. The challenge in this area is significant, with a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s Health 2010, revealing that Indigenous adults are about three times as likely to report that they have diabetes.

Baker IDI is home to Australia’s largest specialist diabetes clinic, located in Melbourne. The Institute boasts a range of online resources, including fact sheets on cholesterol, healthy snacks and food labelling. For more information, or to complete the Baker IDI Online Rish Assessment tool, visit

Prevention and online risk assessment tool

Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute has developed a type 2 diabetes risk assessment tool on behalf of the Australian, state and territory governments to help people determine their risk of type 2 diabetes. As well as understanding the risk, it is also good to keep in mind that the lifestyle choices people make can actually prevent, or at least delay, the onset of type 2 diabetes. Key factors include a person’s weight, waist measurement, level of physical activity, eating habits and whether they smoke.

Information provided in this article is not medical advice and you should consult with your healthcare practitioner. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest.