Survey in Coal Mines Indicates Increased Diabetes Risk

by Mark Benson on October 26, 2011

Financial losses due to diabetes complications

A survey was recently conducted in Ipswich Town’s two biggest coal companies, namely Macarthur Coal and New Hope Coal. The workers in the Coppabella Mine and the Jeebropilly Coal Mine were tested and observed as to their propensity to develop the condition known as diabetes.

It was found that 42% of the workers in both mines were at high risk in developing Type 2 diabetes while 33% were at moderate risk. Most of the high-risk individuals carried big bellies, had smoked and when not at work were sedentary at home.

This propensity to develop diabetes was in miners working on an average 40 hours a week. In the survey, 77% of the participants said they ate fruit and vegetables every day and exercised at least 2.5 hours a week.

This survey by Diabetes Queensland is a reflection of the estimate that three in every four miners are overweight or are already obese. Because of the survey, the non-profit organization had collaborated with the two mining companies to develop a Healthy Mining program with the objective of reducing the risk of miners to develop adult onset diabetes. Once this program proves successful in both mining companies, Diabetes Queensland hopes to expand the program’s reach to other mining companies and other miners as well.

According to Diabetes Queensland CEO Michelle Trute, “Research has found that people working long hours and those working in regional areas were more likely to be overweight or obese which means that mine workers are at increased risk of Type 2 diabetes and its long-term health complications which include heart, eye and kidney disease.”

This diabetes explosion is expected to have significant implications for employers, communities and the Australian state’s overall economy. For employers, it would mean lost man-hours due to absences due to illness as well as increased claims for benefits for illness or even disability. For communities, the state health program would be severely taxed as the complications cannot be cured but only properly managed, leading to long-term medical expenses. As for Queensland’s economy, the loss of workers can severely hamper the industry’s ability to meet the demands of the bustling economy.

It is projected that in the next twenty years, diabetes related hospital admissions would triple to more than 300,000 cases. It is further projected that the total cost of diabetes in the state would triple to A$16.6 billion from A$6.9 billion in 2008.

The survey was participated in by 130 miners who were required to provide information about their age, background, weight and lifestyle to determine their risk of developing adult onset diabetes.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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