National Diabetes Week: HCF supports people with diabetes now and into the future

Sydney, 11 July 2017 - This National Diabetes Week, HCF, Australia’s largest not-for-profit health fund, is highlighting its commitment to being a key partner in the health of Australians with diabetes, and the need for continued support to help people manage the disease.

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia with approximately 1.2million adults known to have type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In reality, these numbers are likely to be much higher, as they do not include people with silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes.1

Cindy Shay, Chief Benefits Officer at HCF says that diabetes has a significant impact on HCF members across Australia. “Our records show that one in every ten HCF members who are admitted to hospital is flagged as having diabetes. These members range between 1 and 102 years old – highlighting that diabetes can affect Australians at any age.”

HCF’s Healthy Weight for Life program is currently available for members on hospital products who have type 2 diabetes and are overweight or obese.2 It is a specialised, 18 week, three phase Chronic Disease Management program designed to help manage a range of modifiable risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes. The program combines and co-ordinates the cornerstones of good diabetes management, including improved nutrition, weight management, increased physical activity and support.

Ms Shay continues, “We know that our Healthy Weight for Life Program is effective in supporting those living with type 2 diabetes. Recent analysis shows that members who completed the program had an average total weight loss of 8.3kg. That equates to an average weight loss of 7.6 per cent, which is significant when it comes to managing the disease.

In addition to supporting those currently living with diabetes, HCF has also shown its commitment to managing diabetes into the future. A recent study funded by the HCF Research Foundation and conducted by a team at UNSW has set the foundations to determine which type 2 diabetes patients are most at risk of hospital admission, and why.

Funding from HCF Research Foundation has enabled the research team to link data from various sources across the health care system, including GP surgeries and hospitals. The team is currently building on these foundations, delving deeper into the linked data in an attempt to better understand the indicators which may cause someone with type 2 diabetes to end up in hospital.

A key researcher on the project, Professor Teng Liaw from UNSW, says that type 2 diabetes has a huge impact both on the broader health system, and on people.

“The GP plays a very important role in managing patients with type 2 diabetes. We are using the work that we have done thanks to HCF Research Foundation to investigate whether those with type 2 diabetes who go to the GP regularly and do everything right in terms of managing the disease – like eating well, exercising, regularly monitoring blood glucose levels and taking any required medications – are less likely to be admitted to hospital.

“We also want to understand what those additional risk factors are that may play a role in the likelihood of someone with type 2 diabetes ending up in hospital. Initial investigations suggest that the patient’s age, taking multiple medications and having other chronic health problems will all have an impact.

“Ultimately, we want to use these insights to develop approaches to prevent initial hospital admission, and later readmission,” continues Professor Liaw.

National Diabetes Week kicks off on 9 July and runs until 15 July 2017, raising awareness and understanding about this chronic condition.


Notes to editors: In the last year, HCF has also supported members currently living with diabetes through its My Health Guardian chronic disease management program, and funding for blood Glucose Monitors and Diabetes Educator service.

The HCF Research Foundation, now in its 17th year, was established in 2000 as the HCF Health and Medical Research Foundation to fund health and medical research for the benefit of all Australians. The Foundation encourages examination and improvement of the provision, administration and delivery of health services to consequently effect positive changes to the health of all Australians.

Fast facts about diabetes in Australia:

  • The rate of diabetes in Australia has tripled in the last 25 years. 
  • Approximately 1.2 million adult Australians are registered as having type 1 or 2 diabetes, with actual numbers likely much higher due to people with silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes. 
  • Often, type 2 remains hidden for ten years or more and in many cases a diagnosis is made only after serious health complications begin to appear.
  • In almost 60 per cent of cases, being informed about your risk of diabetes enables you to slow its advance.
  • If unmanaged, diabetes can cause health problems such as cardiovascular disease, nerve and kidney damage, cataracts, feet problems, among others.
  • There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational.
  • The main symptoms of diabetes are feeling very thirsty; urinating frequently, particularly at night; feeling very tired; weight loss and loss of muscle bulk.

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About HCF

HCF, largest not-for-profit health fund protecting Australians since 1932, covers over 1.5 million members with health and life insurance, community care, travel and pet insurance. On average over the last five years, HCF has paid out more cents in every dollar in premiums to members as benefits than the industry average. With over 35,000 specialists participating in its Medical Gap Cover Scheme and approximately 10,000 providers participating in its 100% back More for You programs, HCF gives members access to quality health care with no gaps or minimal costs compared to non-participating providers. To empower members to put their health first, HCF also offers a range of health and lifestyle services including its My Health Guardian health management program, mobile Victor Chang Health Checks and My Global Specialist second opinion service. HCF’s national network of retail outlets and Australian-based call centres have earned multi-award winning status. HCF members also have access to low cost, high quality services at HCF Dental Centres and HCF Eyecare Centres. Having contributed $50 million to support the health services research funded by the HCF Research Foundation, HCF is devoted to investing in the future of Australia’s health. To learn more about HCF go to

1 AIHW 2014 - 2015 data.
2 The program is open to HCF members aged 18 or over, who’ve held hospital cover for at least 12 months, and who've been medically diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.