Lifestyle diseases on the rise
According to a study from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Australians of both sexes are exercising less, eating worse and getting fatter. The report indicates that as a result, type 2 diabetes has doubled in the last 20 years, and other related chronic health conditions are also on the rise. 1 If diabetes in Australia continues to rise at the current rate it is estimated that by 2025 it will triple and affect three million people over the age of 25. 2
Compared to other nations, Australia’s adult obesity rate is one of the highest in the world. In 2007, Australia had the fifth highest adult obesity rate among OECD countries, only beaten by the United States, Mexico, the United Kingdom and Greece. 3 Also, current leading indicators highlight that approximately 25% of children are overweight or obese, up 20% from an estimated 5% in the 1960s. 4
Obesity can create serious health issues, which affect people’s personal lives and the economy in general. Obesity alone was responsible for 7.5% of the total burden of disease in Australia in 2003. It accounted for 20% of cardiovascular disease and 60% of the type 2 diabetes burden. 5 In 2008, Australia’s annual health bill for type 2 diabetes was around $6 billion, which will increase dramatically as the condition continues to rise. 6
Management of the problem
The ways to manage this are not new. The AIHW study shows that diabetes risk can be reduced significantly by a healthy lifestyle including, among other things, getting enough exercise and eating the right amounts of fruit and vegetables.
An Australian Taskforce was created to address the issue. Its report ‘Australia: the healthiest country by 2020’ 7 points towards the sources of the problem as diet, exercise and education. The report offers suggestions on how to manage the problem on a grand scale, including new food industry management policies and addressing junk food advertising and urban planning guidelines.
Lifestyle diseases are also being addressed by community movements. For example, the culture of eating poorly has been identified by some as a problem linked with a lack of food education and food preparation skills in society.
Inspired by Jamie Oliver’s work educating people on food, ‘The Good Foundation’ is an example of people addressing the root cause (www.thegoodfoundation.com.au). The Good Foundation focuses on giving kids the skills to cook for themselves. Its mission is to address the growing list of health problems caused by poor diet and lack of food knowledge. ‘Cooking is an important life skill which everyone should learn. With the right sort of information and teaching, anyone can learn to cook. Cooking empowers people to take control of their lives and health.’ 8
Lifestyle diseases and the importance of life insurance
All Australians have the responsibility to ensure they themselves and their families lead a healthy lifestyle that reduces the likelihood of lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes. It is however obvious to see that the prevalence of these diseases also highlights the importance of protecting the financial future of loved ones in the case that you were no longer able to provide for them financially due to illness or death. Having a life insurance policy in place will give you the peace of mind of knowing they can be taken care of.
Providing future financial security for your family should not be an after thought. It is important to consider it while you are young and healthy, before you have any health scares and while there are still a range of options available to you. Allianz LifeCover Plus offers straight forward and affordable life insurance options and a simple online application process that can be completed in 12 minutes. Contact 1Cover today for a quote at http://www.1cover.com.au/life-insurance/.
1Produced by the AIHW Cardiovascular, Diabetes and Kidney Unit (CDK). Funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and produced in collaboration with the National Diabetes Data Working Group. P2