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New study shines light on diabetes epidemic among Indigenous youth

Giovanni Torre -

A lack of understanding about diabetes' remains a major roadblock to caring for Indigenous people living with the condition, a new study based in the country's north has found.

The study, undertaken by Diabetes Across the Lifecourse â€" Northern Australia Partnership, highlights the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in northern Australia living with type two diabetes.

The Northern Territory has the highest rates of youth type two diabetes in the world, and the rate has doubled in the past seven years.

One in every 33 Central Australian Aboriginal females aged 15 to 24 years has the condition, a rate 10 times higher than the wider youth population.

Menzies' Diabetes Across the Lifecourse: Northern Australia Partnership researchers Louise Maple-Brown and Renae Kirkham interviewed 27 Indigenous people in the NT aged from 10 to 25 about their experience of living with diabetes.

Aboriginal researchers were involved at all stages of the process.

Ms Kirkham said management of type two diabetes required support from health professionals and family.

"Our findings reinforce the need for support systems tailored to the specific needs of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with type two diabetes," she said.

"Enhanced models of care must be co-designed with young people and their communities and include a focus on shifting norms and expectations about youth type two diabetes to reduce the diabetes stigma and broaden social support.

It is also important to consider the delivery of health information in youth-friendly environments."

The study presented findings that have relevance to other First Nations populations worldwide and has been published online in the Canadian Journal of Diabetes.

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