Areas with higher rates of Type-2 Diabetes also have fewer healthy food options for the people who live there, scientists have found.
The study, published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, examined the causes of Type-2 Diabetes and why it is worse in certain parts of the Australia.
Director of Public Health Sciences at Western Sydney University Dr Thomas Astell-Burt and Dr Xiaoqi Feng from the University of Wollongong calculated the number of greengrocers, supermarkets, takeaway shops and alcohol outlets 20 minutes’ walk from a person’s home, comparing selected areas of Sydney’s west and the north shore.
In the west, about 28 per cent of neighbourhoods had at least a three to one ratio of takeaway shops to greengrocers and supermarkets as well as a much higher rate of Type-2 Diabetes.
The figure was 20 per cent in the North Shore.
“Our previous research and others have already shown that prevalence of Type-2 Diabetes is higher in many suburbs in western Sydney,” Dr Astell-Burt said.
“If you’re living in some areas of Western Sydney you’re more likely to be surrounded by takeaway shops rather than places where you can buy healthier foods.
“For instance, take the suburbs of Blacktown and Mount Druitt the prevalence is above 5 per cent, getting on to 6 to 7 per cent.
“If you compare those suburbs with places such as Mosman or areas in around north Sydney prevalence of Type-2 Diabetes is more like 2 or 2.5 per cent.”
Type-2 Diabetes is a condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and loses the capacity to produce enough insulin in the pancreas, and Dr Astell-Burt said it was a serious problem for society.
“Our lifestyle choices are not made in vacuums, and simply telling people to eat healthily is going to be okay for some who have the means to do that,” he said.
“But for others who live in areas where it is quite difficult to come back from a hard day’s work … to get in the car and go and seek out some healthy food when there’s something more convenient around the corner which is cheaper, albeit less healthy… that’s an issue which we need to address.”