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Monday, 30 November 2015
Page: 14209


Dr GILLESPIE (Lyne) (13:01): I rise in support of this motion. I would like to compliment those members who have spoken so far—the members for Shortland, Macquarie and Kingsford-Smith—on their speeches; and I compliment the member for Moreton for putting this on the agenda.

Diabetes is a huge health problem for the nation. In fact, it represents an epidemic which is probably best called the 'diabesity' epidemic, because the diabetes is driven by obesity and by the secondary resistance to the effect of insulin that comes from it; particularly, obesity around the trunk of the body. There are 1.1 million diabetics diagnosed in Australia, but the scary thing is that there are estimates of up to 250,000 other people who are wandering around Australia oblivious to the fact that they have diabetes. The statistics mentioned by the member for Macquarie are true and quite chilling. We are all aware of the threat of cancer, but everyday cardiovascular disease and the consequences of kidney disease and peripheral vascular disease can also come about as a result of diabetes—more often than we realise.

In this motion, parts (c) and (d) are particularly relevant:

(c) Australia needs a stronger response to the challenge of diabetes;

(d) there is evidence that:

(i) the onset of type 2 diabetes can be successfully prevented; and

(ii) serious complications and hospitalisations from diabetes can be prevented;

So what should we do? Basically, we can prevent most of those 1.1 million people—and most of those undiagnosed 200,000 people—from suffering the ravages of diabetes, mainly by losing a whole lot of weight. If you get rid of the insulin resistance, you can prevent the effects of diabetes—basically, your blood sugar control in itself is fixed. To do that, you need to lose weight by consuming a lot fewer carbohydrates. There are lots of arguments like, 'don't eat carbs,' or 'just eat protein,' or 'avoid fats.' The issue is calories. We need a mixed source of protein, carbohydrates and fats, because we evolved and came down from the trees: we are omnivores. What is best is that we eat less food—we are surrounded by and we are bathed in excesses of food. We need to do more exercise. I have often called my special diet Eat Less Food; I tell patients they need to go on the ELF diet—because most people need a jazzy name, or some program. So I tell them, 'Go on the ELF diet and the DME program.' That is sometimes married with the DLG program, which is the auxiliary program Drink Less Grog. Eat less food, do more exercise, drink less grog and you will lose weight. There is no secret recipe here; it is just common sense. You will lose weight and you might get rid of your insulin resistance. Another simple, cheap remedy is to put people with documented insulin resistance on a simple, old-fashioned drug called metformin. With this and the weight loss, the need for insulin can be avoided in many of the people who end up on insulin.

It is up to us to eat healthy food. If you are eating food that you pull out of the ground or off a tree, is harvested and unprocessed or runs, jumps, swims or flies, it is generally pretty healthy. If you get it out of a shiny silver pack or a cardboard box, it has usually been processed. If a hen lays it, it is good; if an animal lays it, it is good. That is how we were designed to eat. For most of us, who eat way too much food, it is a chilling thought to eat less of it, because food is really enjoyable. We want to support our agricultural industry and butchers and greengrocers, but we need to do that. We should also have our blood sugar checked once a year and our urine checked for glucose.

Debate interrupted.