Sitting in the wife’s GP practice waiting for her to finish work and then take the kids to see Paw Patrol Live, I noticed a pamphlet ‘The Australian Type 2 Diabetes Risk Assessment Tool’ (or AUSDRISK), and decided to ‘give it a go’.
AUSDRISK was developed by the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute on behalf of the Australian, State and Territory Governments as part of the COAG initiative (2007 to 2011) to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
There are ten questions looking at age, gender, ethnicity, family history, your medical history, medication history, smoking status, fruit and vegetables consumed, physical activity and waist measurement. Users add up their score (there is a maximum score of 38 points) and will then be stratified into one of three categories:
- 5 points or less (low risk):
- Approximately one person in every 100 will develop diabetes.
- 6 to 11 points (intermediate risk):
- For scores of 6-8, approximately one person in every 50 will develop diabetes.
- For scores of 9-11, approximately one person in every 30 will develop diabetes.
- 12 points or more (high risk):
- For scores of 12-15, approximately one person in every 14 will develop diabetes.
- For scores of 16-19, approximately one person in every 7 will develop diabetes.
- For scores of 20 or higher, approximately one person in every 3 will develop diabetes.
Being a male (3 points), aged 42 (2 points), I automatically score 5 points putting me just below the borderline for intermediate risk, and in three years I will automatically have 7 points and be in the intermediate risk category! At age 65, I will score 11 points, providing I score zero on every thing else. As noted below, my age and gender are risk factors that cannot be changed.
What is Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic (i.e long-term) disease marked by high levels of sugar in the blood. It occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin (a hormone released by the pancreas) or respond well enough to insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. There are approximately one million people with type 2 diabetes (within Australia). This figure is expected to increase significantly in the coming years.
People with diabetes have a higher risk of developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, circulation problems, lower limb amputations, nerve damage and damage to the kidneys and eyes.
Many Australians, particularly those over 40, are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes through lifestyle factors such as physical inactivity and poor nutrition. Family history of diabetes and genetics also play a role in type 2 diabetes.
What can you do to lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes?
Your lifestyle choices can prevent or, at least, delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
You cannot change risk factors like age and your genetic background. You can do something about being overweight, your waist measurement, how active you are, eating habits and smoking.
If there is type 2 diabetes in your family, you should be careful not to put on weight. Reducing your waist measurement reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes.
By increasing your physical activity and improving your eating habits you can lower your risk. Eat plenty of vegetables and high fibre cereal products every day and use small amounts of fat and oils. Monounsaturated oils, such as olive oil or canola oil, are the best choice.
You can have type 2 diabetes and not know it because there may be no obvious symptoms.
Symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes
Symptoms of type 2 diabetes include:
- Being excessively thirsty;
- Passing more urine;
- Feeling tired and lethargic;
- Always feeling hungry;
- Having cuts that heal slowly;
- Itching, skin infections;
- Blurred vision;
- Gradually putting on weight;
- Mood swings;
- Feeling dizzy; and/or
- Leg cramps.
References and Useful links
AUSDRSIK Pamphlet: https://static.diabetesaustralia.com.au/s/fileassets/diabetes-australia/6d252140-1ff0-47b2-a83f-3cc3db348131.pdf.
Diabetes SA: https://www.diabetessa.com.au/type-2/the-australian-type-2-diabetes-risk-assessment-tool.html.
Australian Government, Department of Health: http://www.health.gov.au/preventionoftype2diabetes.
Baker IHI Heart & Diabetes Institute: https://www.baker.edu.au/.
Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Initiative: https://www.health.gov.au/internet/budget/publishing.nsf/Content/BC9E49EDBCEFB951CA257CA0003FF4CC/$File/hfact31.pdf and https://www.coag.gov.au/.
Diabetes Australia: https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/type-2-diabetes.