The global epidemic of Type 2 diabetes is an indicator of serious underlying issues in our society, says a University of Sydney medical expert.
"People think of this as an issue of individual responsibility - you're overweight, you've got diabetes, it's your fault. But it just isn't," said Associate Professor Bruce Neal.
"You are overweight because you live in a society that make it easy for you to be overweight, that bombards you with advertising about the wrong kinds of foods, that doesn't make it easy for you to lose weight," said Professor Neal.
More than 250 million people worldwide have Type 2 diabetes, and the numbers are growing rapidly. Most will eventually die or be disabled by the complications.
"Diabetes is an indicator of serious underlying issues in our society," he added. "We have to get governments much more engaged in addressing the reasons why we have this epidemic. Unless they take a more active role it is not going to go away. It is not going to get better. In fact it is going to get much worse."
Professor Neal was speaking after the release of a landmark study, the biggest of its kind ever conducted, that shows that a combination of two blood pressure lowering drugs reduces the risk of death in Type 2 diabetes patients, as well as their risks of heart and kidney disease.
The ADVANCE (Action in Diabetes and Vascular Disease) Study was led by researchers at The George Institute for International Health. The Institute is affiliated to Sydney University with a mission to seek solutions for major global public health problems through research, policy development and training.
"The really novel thing about this study was that we lowered blood pressure, irrespective of what your blood pressure was to start with," said Professor Neal. "So if you had Type 2 diabetes, we lowered your blood pressure whether you had hypertension or not.