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Suburbs with higher diabetes rates have more access to takeaway food, alcohol

Suburbs with higher diabetes rates have more access to takeaway food, alcohol - Featured Image

When looking at rising type 2 diabetes rates, we need to also look the availability of fresh food in the local geographical area, experts say.

In a perspective published in today’s Medical Journal of Australia, research has found that people living in western Sydney have a higher access to takeaway and alcohol shops than those living in Sydney’s north shore.

There are also much higher rates of Type 2 diabetes rates in western Sydney, particularly around the suburbs of Mount Druitt and Blacktown.

Dr Thomas Astell-Burt, Director of Public Health Sciences at Western Sydney University, and Dr Xiaoqi Feng, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology at the University of Wollongong calculated the number of greengrocers, supermarkets, takeaway shops and alcohol outlets within 15–20 minutes’ walk from a person’s home.

“About 28% (868/3148) of neighbourhoods in the west had at least [a 3:1] ratio of takeaway shops to greengrocers and supermarkets, in comparison to 20% (546/2744) in the north,” they report.

“The equivalent results for alcohol outlets were 12% (365/3148) in the west and 5% (131/2744) in the north.”

Related: Food inequality a health risk

They said in Sydney’s west, the availability of fresh produce within a reasonable walking distance was limited.

These preliminary findings are from the Mapping food Environments in Australian Localities (MEAL) Project, which was initiated in 2014 to explore geographical inequities in food environment in metropolitan Sydney.

The researchers say the findings indicate that more needs to be done to help people struggling with Type 2 diabetes.

“We have to invest in multisectoral change for which the health benefits may only be realised in the long term,” they write.

Read the full perspective in the Medical Journal of Australia.

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