CHAMPION COLUMN | Diabetes affects more than your body

While diabetes is widely recognised as being a physical condition, the related impacts on mental and emotional health are less well known.

This month's Diabetes Awareness Week theme is supporting the emotional and mental health of people living with diabetes.

Managing diabetes involves many different daily decisions - regarding food, medication, exercise - and these choices can place extra, unexpected stress on individual wellbeing.

In Australia, the number of people with diabetes is three times higher than it was 25 years ago, and western Sydney is a key hotspot. More than twice as many people in Western Sydney live with diabetes than in the northern and eastern parts of Sydney.

While we know that our region is one of the best places to live, it is clear from research that we may be living a bit too well. Only 7.1 per cent of us is eating the recommended daily intake of vegetables, and we don't exercise enough to maintain a healthy weight.

WSROC president Councillor Barry Calvert

WSROC president Councillor Barry Calvert

Over 15 per cent of western Sydney residents estimated to have diabetes already, and more than 60 per cent of our region's population is overweight and at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Because we know that people living close to parkland have overall better physical and mental health outcomes, Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has advocated for more green spaces in our region; the NSW Government's Greener Public Spaces planning is also a step in the right direction.

However, increasing numbers of western Sydney residents continue to suffer direct and related impacts of diabetes, which can include eye disease, limb damage, kidney disease and problems with mental health.

The good news is that diabetes risk can be reduced, by making small, consistent changes to lifestyle choices. By finding time for a little more exercise and eating a more balanced diet, we can shift the numbers and get our region's health back on track. Western Sydney is home to many green spaces and pleasant walks that are accessible to everyone.

This Diabetes Week, I encourage locals to get outside, move a bit more and see if you can be part of the change: Raising diabetes awareness for better regional health.