Type 2 Diabetes in Aged Indigenous Australians

By prediction year, 2016 will see the population of Australia has a 16% population of people aged 65 years. In the same year, another 25% of the people will be aged over 80 years. The statistics reveal a likelihood of a problem exist since within this range of years chronic diabetes is among amongst the elderly in Australia.

According to a study carried in Australia, between the age brackets of 65 to 74, 17.5% of these people are affected by diabetes; another 23% of the people over 75 years are also affected by diabetes. The statistics hence show that diabetes is a lifestyle for people over 65 years. It is also notable that indigenous Australians have a more likely hood to be affected by diabetes than other Australians (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2005:2).

Diabetes is an illness that is caused by having a poor metabolic system. By this, I mean that it is a result of having poor control of glucose levels. The levels of glucose are controlled by the insulin and glucagon contained in the pancreas, though there are other sugars produced in the pancreases, glucose is the only measured sugar. Glucagon and insulin both work in opposite ways; while glucagon is raising the level of glucose in the blood, insulin is lowering the lever on glucose.

Insulin can reduce the level of glucose in the body by the fact that it is used to transport glucose and through this, it reduces the level of glucose in the blood. Two types of diabetes affect people. There is the one that is dependent on insulin, and this is called type 1 diabetes, the other type of diabetes that is not dependant on insulin is called type 2 diabetes.

However, though type 2 diabetes is not dependant on insulin in recent years doctors have seen it fit to treat patients diagnosed with this diabetes for insulin as it reduces complications of high glucose levels. Type 2 diabetes is commonly associated with old and obese adults but with time it has been noted even young people are been affected by this disease. Type 2 diabetes is usually characterized by patients passing a lot of urine, taking a lot of fluid, and even eating abnormally. However, it is notable that type 2 diabetes has milder symptoms than type 1 diabetes (Craig ME, 2007:56).

As earlier noted the prevalence of diabetes 2 is common amongst the indigenous Australian people. The trend can be attributed to the genetic susceptibility amongst these people, changes in lifestyle, and nutrition changes in the past 60 years. Incidences of having diabetes are related to the body mass index (BMI) that one has in his body.

Since original Australians live in a traditional setup kind of lifestyle, their body weight does not seem to increase with age. Studies have shown that indigenous Australians need less amount of food to sustain themselves as compared to European Australians. It has also been said by many people that indigenous Australians have a highly efficient metabolism that helped these people live their traditional lifestyle (Alex, 2007:4).

While these people were living the traditional lifestyle, they used to eat foods with low levels of fat and this is backed by research that shows that they used to live a fit and healthy life. However, today’s westernized lifestyle has changed that. Foods are now richer in fat and sugar the sedimentary lifestyle has led the once effective lifestyle act against them. The genetic makeup that allowed these people to live when there was scarce food available to them has become a disadvantage to them and leads to instances of obesity that transpire to a high likelihood of being affected with diabetes (Hee, 2010).

Obesity has been likened to the possibility of being affected by type 2 diabetes. Among the elderly people in Australia, they tend to lack the services of being diagnosed for a couple of reasons. For one, they are lack specific services design for them and also they lack access to mainstream diabetes services.

Medical practitioners have been quoted saying that the aged with diabetes have poorly managed services. In turn, the obese and aged Australians suffering from diabetes are more likely to die of this disease as there is poor management of facilities available to them. The type 2 prevalence has also notably needed more attention in rural areas. The risk factors of people affected in the rural areas are more because some of them live in remote areas where there are far from the needed medication.

According to research, the burden of diabetes is more in rural areas and particularly remote areas. People in remote areas have twice the likelihood of being hospitalized while those in more remote areas have thrice as much possibility of being hospitalized. The same applies to death as those remote areas have twice as much possibility of dying from diabetes than people in urban areas. On the other hand, those living in more remote areas have four times the possibility of dying (Alliance, 2009:36).

Various reasons have to lead to diabetes being problematic among indigenous Australians. Diet is one of these problems, a diet filled with fat and low on fiber has a high possibility of causing obesity. Most of the indigenous Australians eat energy-dense food with no access to fruits. The problem is even worse in the rural areas as rural areas lack groceries where these people can get fruits (Farrell, 2005:1116).

Not only do the indigenous Australians lack accessibility to fruits but it is also expensive for them to get. The risk therefore of growing obese for the indigenous Australians is therefore high and compared with the life they used to live where they used to get fruits from the forest. The new lifestyle has made the risk of getting diabetes become high. However, research has shown that those indigenous people who consume bush meat and remove the fatty part reduce the risk of becoming obese.

Lack of physical activity also has some effect on the rise of obesity and subsequently the high risk of getting diabetes among the indigenous inhabitants of Australia. Due to urbanization and westernization, there has been a notable shift of lifestyle from the traditional one to a more westernized one. In turn, the level of activity is lower between this group of people is lower than the other Australian people. The result of not having physical exercises are the individuals growing obese and diabetes (Crowley, 2004:572).

Prevalence of smoking is also common amongst the indigenous Australians than the other Australians. A study carried out among the people in Australia on the effect of smoking on type 2 diabetes showed that smokers have a twice as high likelihood of getting type two cancer as compared to nonsmokers.

Also notable in this study was the fact that lower social-economic status increased this effect. Therefore, not only smoking leads to a high prevalence of type 2 cancer other factors were also inclusive. Alcohol consumption has also been likened to type 2 cancers (McDermott, 2010:5). However, it is not known whether the effects are due to the effect of alcohol on obesity or is due to the substance itself. It is estimated that an average indigenous Australian takes about three standard drinks of alcohol per day.

The high rate of alcohol taking can be attributed to the fact that these people face a higher stress level than the other Australians. The presence of stress could be attributed to the fact these Australians face geographical and social isolation, post-colonialist displacement, and maybe loss of their land.

Social-economic status can also be attributed to causing type 2 cancer though indirectly, the fact that the indigenous Australians are the occupants of the lowest socioeconomic status in Australia means that they have limited resources to acquire essentials needed to ensure there is the reduction of the possibility of getting this disease (Australian Diabetes Educators Association, 2003:36).

Having low social-economic levels transpires one to have a higher likelihood of psychological stress that leads to the population to increase the intake of alcohol and also increase the rate of smoking. To some, it is important to feed their family than to ensure a lower level of calories is kept on the food they consume (Shukla, 2010:60).

Since there are notable dangers that come with having diabetes, there need to be means of managing this epidemic. To start with, the care given to older people should be more than the one given to younger people. The reasoning behind this is that the younger have a likelihood of living more than the elderly. In Australia, the type of care given is usually in an ambulatory setting. The benefits of having such a setup are that it has a reduced cost of care as hospitalization are not required (McMurray, 2003).

The other benefit of diabetic management is that a person can be able to live in the community carrying on with his or her duties while still getting treatment. The health care of diabetic patients is also been individualized. The same should also be extended to the old people though they can only be able to handle just a simple regime (McDermott, 1998:1189).


Alex, K. Odea.K. 2007. Diabetes in Indigenous. The medical Journal of Australiapp. 2-4.

Alliance, N. R. 2009. Type 2 Diabetes in rural Australia. Canberra: National Rural Health Alliance.

Australian Diabetes Educators Association (2003). Guidelines for the Management and Care of Diabetes in the Elderly. Canberra, ADEA.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2005. Australian Bureau of Statistics and AIHW. Web.

Craig ME, Femia G, Broyda V, et al.( 2007)).Type 2 diabetes in Indigenous and non- Indigenous Children and adolescents in New South Wales. Med J.

Crowley, L. 2004. An Introduction to Human Disease: Pathology and Pathophysiology Correlations. Jones & Bartlett, Boston.

Farrell, M. 2005. Smeltzer and Bare’s Textbook of Medical-Surgical Nursing, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins, Sydney. Web.

Hee, M. 2010. Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, a review comparing Indigenous . Sydney: MSJA.

McDermott R. Ethics, epidemiology and the thrifty gene: biological determinism as a health hazard. Soc Sci Med. 1998; 47(9): 1189-95.

McDermott, R. A. 2010. Incidence of type 2 diabetes in twoindegenius australians populations: a six year follow-up study. Canberra: The Medical Journal of Australia.

McMurray, A. 2003. Community Health and Wellness: A Socioecological Approach, Mosby, Sydney.

Shukla, A. 2010. Type 2 Diabetes in Indigenous Communities: A. Sydney: Australian National University.

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