Diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease

Fighting lifestyle diseases and their related conditions

Diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease are amongst the greatest health challenges we face this century. Our Centre is working together to tackle these diseases through medical research and community education.

Cardiovascular disease

What is cardiovascular disease?

Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, is likely to affect you and your family in your lifetime. It includes heart attack, stroke, angina, coronary heart disease and congenital heart disease. The main cause of heart disease is plaque build-up on artery walls (atherosclerosis) and symptoms of heart disease include chest pain, sudden speech problems and difficulty with mobility.

Preventing heart disease

You are more likely to be at risk if you smoke, have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, are sedentary, are overweight, eat badly and drink excessively. Lifestyle changes around these areas can be an immense improvement, but risks can also lie in your family history, ethnicity, and age and gender.

We are working towards improving health outcomes for the community by researching cardiovascular disease, its prevention and its treatment.


Obesity rates in Australia

Obesity is highly prevalent in Australia, with 35 percent of Australians overweight and 28 percent obese. The statistics are projected to increase to 41 percent and 34 percent respectively by 2025 .

How to lose weight and live longer

Obesity is associated with many other physical and mental health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, lower quality of life, and increased mortality rates.

Understanding how to lose weight – and regulating your body weight long-term – has significant benefits for longevity and a healthy body and mind. Moving from a sedentary lifestyle to incorporating regular exercise, maintaining a high-fibre and nutritious diet, and staying on top of regular GP visits can help ward off obesity.


There are three types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune condition not linked to lifestyle factors, and for which there is no prevention or cure. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition related to insulin and associated with lifestyle choices. Gestational diabetes occurs during pregnancy.

What is insulin?

Insulin is a hormone manufactured in the pancreas that enables the cells in the muscles, fat and liver to absorb the glucose that is in the blood. Insulin production is based on blood sugar levels and other hormones.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Type 2 diabetes represents up to 90 percent of all cases of diabetes. It occurs when the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin and the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to overcome this insulin resistance. Although the exact cause is unknown, it is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle, and runs in families genetically.

Managing diabetes

Diabetes can be managed, both through lifestyle changes and medication. In addition to regular exercise, eating well and losing weight, many people with diabetes will need oral medication and/or insulin injections to control blood sugar levels as the disease progresses over time.


People with prediabetes are at increased risk of developing diabetes, and one in three will develop type 2 diabetes. GPs have an important role in diagnosing prediabetes early and recommending long-term lifestyle changes to prevent diabetes.


The time to act is now

Our medical, nutritional and physiological research is making leaps in understanding the links between heart disease, obesity and diabetes. We arm some of the world’s most influential scholars with opportunities to make a difference to families like yours.

We have campaigned for greater interest in nutrition and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, ranked the best apps for weight loss, and advocated for the transparent disclosure of health and research financing.

With your support, we will continue to meet these global challenges.