QUT researcher Dr Margueriete Sendall is trying to find out why diabetes rates are so high in mining towns.
QUT researcher Dr Margueriete Sendall is trying to find out why diabetes rates are so high in mining towns.

Research into why diabetes in mining towns is up 67%

DIABETES is skyrocketing in regional Queensland's mining communities and a new study is aiming to find out why.

Queensland University of Technology health researcher Dr Margueriete Sendall is trying to learn why workplace health campaigns are not breaking through with miners.

Dr Sendall said diabetes in mining communities had increased by 67% and more than three-quarters of workers in the industry were classified as obese - the leading cause of type 2 diabetes.

"More than 186,000 Queenslanders are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, but the problem is there are nearly as many undiagnosed, pre-diabetic or high-risk cases," Dr Sendall said.

"One of the big risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes is obesity and compared to other industries, miners have the highest rates with 76% of workers classified obese."

Dr Sendall is studying why mining workers are not heeding the workplace health advice they are given.

"We know that many workplaces offer their staff wellness programs and it is likely that many miners are aware that they are at risk of diabetes," she said.

"But what we want to know is whether there is a relationship between health promotion in the workplace and diagnosis of diabetes? Are miners going to the doctor for check-ups, and if so do their partners have a role encouraging them to do so?"

Does where you live have high rates of diabetes? 

Dr Sendall said diabetes cost the Australian economy an estimated $14.6 billion a year and was a growing concern.

"A recent study has found that fly-in, fly-out workers struggle to manage chronic diseases such as diabetes because of their rosters, remote location and work stresses," she said.

"The problem with the mining industry is that it is made up of predominantly a male workforce who are shift workers and who spend most of their time sitting down. Therefore they don't have a lot of time to eat well and exercise."

FIFO workers are wanted for the study, which involves a 60-minute interview.

Participants will be reimbursed for their time with a $50 Bunnings Warehouse voucher.

To take part in the study, email Laura McCosker at QUT lk.mccosker@qut.edu.au.