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Chronic Kidney Disease Set to Soar in Australia

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The number of diabetic Australians with kidney disease is expected to skyrocket by the year 2020 as Australia marches towards being the fattest nation.

Some 17 million Australians are currently overweight or obese state the Monash Obesity and Diabetes Institute. They predict that by the 2020 more than eighty percent of Australian adults, and a third of children will be overweight or obese, putting them at risk of contracting obesity related type-two diabetes.

These predictions have been confirmed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The organisation also stated in a recent report that the incident of end stage kidney disease is expected to rise significantly, with diabetes contributing sizably to the increase.

Director of the Monash Obesity and Diabetes Institute Professor Michael Cowley said that obesity in Australia has a significant personal and financial impact on the Australian way of life.

“Obesity causes more loss of productive and life than any other preventable disease apart from smoking. It has a tremendous personal cost in terms of economic opportunity, health care costs, pain and stigmatization,” said Professor Cowley. “It has very expensive costs to the community in terms of health care and lost productivity, and it will have global financial impact, as our major trading partners lose economic viability due to the increased health care costs of caring for their own populations with diseases like diabetes,” said Cowley.

“Making too many of the easy choices early on can have long term consequences, and exert long term costs on Australians,” he said.

David Parker, a consumer representative for Kidney Health Australia, Australia’s only kidney health non-profit organisation, talks about his own personal experiences with chronic kidney disease.

“I had a transplant last year and I feel absolutely on top of the world,” said Parker. “That’s after being a kidney patient since about 30 years-of-age and being on dialysis for about three years. That’s a pretty tough existence being on dialysis. It’s a terrible burden, which the patients bare. I want to give you one fact, you know, which is you would think that dialysis is lifesaving, is a lifesaving treatment. And you would think that it would be worth the effort, but the sad fact is that more than a quarter of all deaths on dialysis occur because people voluntarily withdraw from the treatment. It’s simply too much to bare.”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimate that 50 Australians die per day from kidney related diseases, and that end stage kidney illness will cost the Australian government twelve billion dollars by the year two thousand and twenty. However, Anne Wilson CEO of Kidney Health Australia feels that this need not be the case.

“We’ve got the greatest cost to the health system which is dialysis. Our health minister consistently talks about the incredible cost of end stage kidney failure. We have more dialysis units opening up. The reality is the answer isn’t to open up more dialysis units. We have to treat everybody who is end stage that’s for sure, but we have to look at the way we detect kidney disease early because if we detect kidney disease early we can either halt it or we can stop progression to end stage in at least fifty percent of the cases,” said Wilson. “Now when you extrapolate that out in relation to the costs and the savings over a twenty to forty year period you have significant health budget savings. And the international data has shown unequivocally that it takes a relatively small investment by government to make a huge difference in the kidney area.”

The threat of contracting kidney disease, due to poor lifestyle choices, is ‘very real.’ However, by considering healthier alternatives you can reduce its social and economic impact.

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