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Diabetes is a big health problem in Australia. There are around 700,000 people with diabetes, and at least half of them are unaware they have it. Some people have type 1 diabetes, but most (85-90%) have type 2 diabetes .
Two causes of type 2 diabetes are:
The rate of diabetes among Indigenous Australians is around 2-4 times higher than for the general population. Some reasons for this will be explained later .
Diabetes is a sickness that happens when the body does not produce enough insulin (a hormone which controls the amount of sugar in our blood).
When food and drink go into the stomach, some of it is broken down into sugar - the sugar then goes into the blood. This is when the insulin is needed (a body part, called the pancreas, makes insulin). Insulin is like a key that unlocks the body cells so that the sugar can move into muscles and give you energy. Without the insulin key, the sugar stays in the blood and causes you to feel tired because you are not getting enough energy. So when you have diabetes you don’t have enough insulin and you may feel tired. Diabetes causes other problems too, which will be explained later .
There are three main types of diabetes:
Type 1 diabetes is most common among children and young adults. It is more serious than type 2 diabetes and requires regular injections of insulin. It is not caused by eating bad tucker or not doing enough exercise. No one is really sure why people get this sickness, but some possible reasons are given later .
Type 2 diabetes is much more common, and usually it is people over the age of forty who get this sickness. As stated above, it can be caused by eating too much rubbish food and not moving around or exercising enough. Some people have the sickness for many years before realising it. Once people know they have diabetes they can start eating better food and exercising more. This can lessen the sickness and in some cases cure it .
Gestational diabetes is the kind of diabetes that women having a baby sometimes get. The diabetes is likely to go away after she has had her baby. But it can make a woman more likely to get diabetes again later in life. Women who have had this type of diabetes need to eat good tucker and keep active, so the sickness won’t return  .
When people have diabetes their blood sugar level is too high.
The normal blood sugar level (the amount of sugar in your blood) is between 4 and 7 millimoles per litre. If a person has a level above 7.8 they have diabetes. This level is measured by a special machine at your clinic .
Signs that a person may have diabetes:
As stated above, it is not known what makes people get type 1 diabetes. Babies who are very small at birth are more likely to get this sickness. More than 80% of people with type 1 diabetes have no one in their family who has had the disease.
You could also get this sickness from:
You can get type 2 diabetes from the way you live and also from things you can’t change.
Things you can’t change that could make you get type 2 diabetes are:
If someone in your family had type 2 diabetes there is a high chance that you could get it too. This is because you have similar genes. Genes are instructions passed from parent to child that decide the make-up of the body and mind .
As you get older, your body stops working as well as it did when you were younger. The older people get, the more likely they are to get type 2 diabetes .
Things you can change that might stop you getting type 2 diabetes:
When too much food (energy) is eaten, our bodies store it as fat. Over time, the build-up of fat will make you overweight or obese (very over weight). Being overweight may be the most important factor in causing you to get type 2 diabetes. You are even more likely to get type 2 diabetes if most of your fat is around your middle (belly). Around 40% of adults in Australia are overweight or obese .
Eating rubbish food leads to obesity as well as high blood pressure, which can make you more likely to get diabetes.
A healthy diet should include:
A bad diet usually includes foods that have:
Not doing very much exercise (activity) means that you do not use very much energy and this can make you put on weight (get fat) .
High blood pressure is when there is too much pressure placed on the walls of blood vessels that carry the blood around the body. This can cause damage to the heart and other parts of the body such as the kidneys, as well as help you to get diabetes .
If you have diabetes for a long time it can cause damage to your body. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely it is that damage will happen .
Having diabetes can lead to: