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Poverty the main factor in Indigenous diabetes

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 13 Nov 2006

"The prevalence of diabetes in Australian Indigenous communities has little to do with any 'racial' genetic predisposition to the disease and everything to do with a lifestyle derived from endemic poverty and a lack of social opportunities," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"Diabesity today is chiefly a disease of poverty and social disadvantage."

Poor quality diets based on cheap and unhealthy 'western' foods combined with a lack of life and recreational opportunities for Indigenous children and adolescents are the biggest causal factors.

Traditionally, diabetes was unknown and 'bush food' diets were high in nutrients and low in energy.

"The solution to this pressing problem is to turn around out approach to Indigenous community health," said Senator Siewert.

"Indigenous health care spending is all focused at the chronic end of the spectrum," said Senator Siewert. "Primary health care spending for Aboriginal Australians is only 40% of the mainstream, and there is very little spend on preventative health care strategies."

The result is that people get very sick before there is any intervention, and we spend a lot of money for very little result.

"We need to be spending another $450 million per-annum of primary and preventative health care for Indigenous Australians," said Senator Siewert.

 "We must recognise that poor health together with poor life outcomes are a result of social disadvantage," she concluded.


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