Lifestyle key to diabetes control

Fighting diabetes: From left, nurse Debra Richard, WentWest's dietician Lauren Wright, SydWest Multicultural Centre case worker Mervat Altarazi and resident Naief Yousef. Picture: Gary Warrick

Fighting diabetes: From left, nurse Debra Richard, WentWest's dietician Lauren Wright, SydWest Multicultural Centre case worker Mervat Altarazi and resident Naief Yousef. Picture: Gary Warrick

MOUNT Druitt and much of western Sydney is "a type 2 diabetes hot spot", says diabetes educator Sian Bramwell.

"There are lots of risk factors here, such as high fast food consumption and lifestyles in general," Mrs Bramwell, who works with the western Sydney Medicare Local, WentWest, said.

"One of our main worries is 80 per cent of people at high risk don't know it."

Mount Druitt's SydWest Multicultural Centre hosted a diabetes-screening session and workshop recently for Arabic-speaking residents.

Mount Druitt resident Naief Yousef, who has type 2 diabetes, said he wanted to learn how to handle the disease.

"I've learned it's important to watch what I eat and how I should do more exercise," Mr Yousef said.

"I do think of doing more exercise, but it's hard when I feel tired.

"It's also hard to change my eating habits, especially with Arab food where we use a lot of rice and bread."

WentWest's dietician and fitness instructor Lauren Wright said she did not aim to completely change people's ways in a few workshops.

"We focus on lifestyle, not just diet," Miss Wright said.

"Diets don't always work, so we educate people; how they can do things in practical ways, such as what to cook and how to read food labels.

"We could look at strategies to drink more water by say, putting a bit of lemon in it."

She said as with diet, exercise programs were not always easy for people to adopt, so she looked at making small changes first.

Mrs Bramwell said many problems could be avoided if people screened themselves for type 2 diabetes.

"If we screen people early we can prevent them getting diabetes, or at least delay it," she said.

She said to contact their GP to arrange a screening program.

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