TOWNSVILLE residents are paying a heavy toll for unhealthy habits with the city recording a 13 per cent increase in type 2 diabetes.
Stark new figures from the Heart Foundation show 36.3 per cent of locals are obese, and almost two-thirds are not getting enough daily exercise.
Diabetes Queensland recorded 6406 diagnosed type 2 patients in the Townsville local government area in 2013, which has now risen to 7261.
But rates of diabetes in the Mount Isa area were the worst in the north, growing 15 per cent in two years.
Townsville GP Kevin Arlett said he had personally seen an increase in diabetes at his practice, and alarmingly his patients were getting younger.
“I am seeing an increasing number of cases in teenagers,” Dr Arlett said.
“Some of that is due to better diagnosis but a lot of it is related to people not eating well and exercising correctly and other chronic illnesses such as metabolic syndrome.”
Dr Arlett said many people were in denial about their weight and associated health problems and society’s perception of normality was changing as patients got larger.
“A lot of people don’t see themselves as overweight and … it’s very sad that is happening,” Dr Arlett said. “The symptoms and signs of diabetes can be reversed so if we can get people to exercise and eat correct foods we can often control it.”
Townsville Hospital and Health Service director of endocrinology, Kunwarjit Sangla, said it was important to look out for the warning signs of type 2 diabetes so that the disease could be managed before complications arose.
Dr Sangla said people with a family history of diabetes, those over 55, over 45 and overweight or with high blood pressure, and over 35 and of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background were some of those most at risk. “There are a range of symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes such as being excessively thirsty, feeling lethargic, blurred vision, weight gain, mood swings, headache, dizziness and leg cramps,” he said.
Dr Sangla said the Townsville HHS was working hard to assist those who already had the disease.
“The department has been accredited for the next five years for two advanced training positions in endocrinology,” he said.
“Our site-accreditation success means we can commit ongoing training for future endocrinologists in Townsville.”