Study tracks declining health


Michaela Meade and Alesha Capone

Hume and Whittlesea residents are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to recent data.

The SiSU Health Group released data collected from 300 SiSU Health stations – which provide users with a free, self-service health check – comparing users’ pre-pandemic health levels from January 1, 2017 to March 31, 2020, to post-pandemic levels (April 1, 2020 to June 9, 2021).

The SiSU stations in Hume, Whittlesea, Wyndham, Hobsons Bay, Brimbank and Melton recorded 17,889 pre-COVID users and 5723 post-COVID users.

The risk factor of people who smoked developing type 2 diabetes increased for both Hume and Whittlesea, up from 16 per cent and 18.5 per cent risk respectively pre-pandemic, to 21.9 per cent and 19.4 per cent post-pandemic.

The overweight/obesity risk factor increased for Whittlesea, from 65.3 per cent pre-pandemic to 65.5 per cent post, however decreased for Hume from 69.2 per cent pre-pandemic to 66.2 post.

A SiSU Health spokesperson said the data was, in some ways, not surprising.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been an extremely stressful time, particularly for people in the Hume and Whittlesea municipalities, who were hit quite hard by outbreaks and lockdowns in the local areas,” they said.

The spokesperson said “knowing your numbers” is important for being aware of a risk of developing diabetes.

“People might be vaguely aware that their lifestyle habits may have changed since the pandemic began, but likely will not know exactly how this has impacted their vital statistics unless they have had a health check recently,” the spokesperson said.

“We’d recommend that people take the opportunity to have a check up… to see where they are at.

“Sometimes a health check is just the wake-up call people need to recognise that things are not going in the right direction.”