Diabetes is one of the public health problems in Australia today. The number of people being diagnosed with diabetes has been increasing every year in Australia and has reached a level that concerns Australians. This media analysis assesses a recent media publication in the Sydney Morning Herald. The paper will analyze the story and discuss the social determinant of health as regards diabetes. The article in which the discussion is based is by Harriet Alexander of the Sydney Morning Herald titled, Diabetes Threatens to Overwhelm Western Sydney Hospitals as Obesity Epidemic Rages. The article was published in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on May 14, 2016, and it is based on the rising cases of diabetes in the western suburbs of Sydney. According to the author, most hospitals in Sydney are currently overwhelmed by the patients suffering from diabetes. The author argues that diabetes has reached an alarming rate in Sydney such that if nothing is done to contain the situation, then Australia will be forced to build specialist factories for amputation purposes in the next few years.
Analysis of the Social Determinants of Health
Diabetes has emerged as one of the leading cause of death in the world. In the United States, diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death. The same applies to the other developed countries where diabetes has emerged as a leading cause of mortalities (Hill et al. 2012, p. 67). However, evidence shows that most interventions in diabetes and most health conditions focus mainly on the biological and behavioral factors, such as diet, symptoms, and physical activity. Despite this being the case, effective intervention in health conditions also requires focusing on the social environment because of the huge influence of the social determinants of health (SDH) on the health outcome of an individual. SDH here denotes the environment in which a person is born, grows up, age and work. Among the social determinants of health include poverty/low income, educational outcome, living conditions, culture, access to nutritious food, housing, community infrastructure and access to medical care among others. As regards diabetes, the most relevant social health determinants are education and culture.
Education is one of the social determinants of health because when education keeps people enlightened about the steps to take to live healthily. People who are educated are less likely to develop health problems because they are able to make good choices about their health than those are illiterate or have a low level of educational attainment. On the other hand, low educational attainment or illiteracy impact negatively on the health outcome because ignorance exposes people to habits that increase their risk of developing poor health. Other than education, culture is another social determinant of health. Culture determines the health of an individual because the culture has an influence on the diet that people eat, mode of food preparation and the choice of medical care. For instance, there are some cultures that do not believe in drugs administered in hospitals while some cultures only believe on the use of complementary medicines and these impacts the health outcome.
In this article, Alexande (2016) identified education as one of the fundamental determinants of health as regards diabetes. The author suggests that, to address the diabetes crisis in Sydney and Australia as a whole, it is important to focus on educating the population arguing that when population is educated and understand the risk factors for diabetes and the measures to take to prevent the disease, it is only then that Australia would become diabetes free. In the author’s view, lack of education and awareness on the risk factors associated with diabetes is a major factor that has contributed to the diabetes crisis in the western suburbs of Sidney. This argument is supported by Hill et al. (2013, p. 67) who stated that people with low educational attainment are 2 to 4 times more at risk of developing diabetes than individuals with high educational attainment. As such, like Alexande (2016), Hill et al. (2013, p. 68) suggests that to contain diabetes, it is important that people focus on educating the population to create awareness of the risk factors of diabetes and ways to prevent this diseases, such as educating people to adopt healthy lifestyles.
In the article, Alexande (2016) noted that the rising cases of diabetes in Sydney and Australia are partly linked to culture. In this respect, the author noted that the fast food eating culture is largely to blame for the rising cases of diabetes in Sydney. Alexande (2016) argues that most Australians have adopted the fast food eating culture with very few eating fresh foods, and this exposes them to the risk of obesity and diabetes. This observation is supported by Thornton and Kavanagh (2012) who noted that the rising cases of diabetes are partly to blame on the growing fast food eating culture. The authors noted that diabetes rates are high in most developed countries today because of the culture of the fast food eating which results in a high intake of calories. High-calorie intake results in an increase in body weight that consequently increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. As such, Thornton and Kavanagh (2012) suggest that to contain the increase of diabetes in the culture; people must be advised to eat junk foods in moderation.
This media analysis has shown that diabetes is a growing problem in Australia and most developed countries. However, the analysis has also demonstrated that social determinants are linked to the diabetes problem in the society. In particular, the analysis has shown that education and culture are some of the social determinants that are associated with diabetes and should be targeted for intervention so as to be able to contain diabetes.
Alexander, H 2016, Diabetes threatens to overwhelm western Sydney hospitals as obesity epidemic rages, Sydney Morning Herald 14 May, viewed 27 July 2016 http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/diabetes-threatens-to-overwhelm-western-sydney-hospitals-as-obesity-epidemic-rages-20160512-gotfas.html
Hill, J., Nielsen, M., & Fox, M. H. 2013, “Understanding the social factors that contribute to diabetes: a means to informing health care and social policies for the chronically ill,”
Perm J. vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 67–72.
Thornton, L. E., & Kavanagh, M. A. 2012, “Association between fast food purchasing and the local food environment,” Nutrition and Diabetes, vol. 2, e53; doi:10.1038/nutd.2012.27