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Dialysis treatments set to soar in NT

AAP logoAAP 2/11/2016 Lucy Hughes Jones

Northern Territory health authorities are bracing for a surge in demand for dialysis treatment in coming years as kidney failure grips remote indigenous communities.

The latest NT Department of Health annual report estimates the number of same day haemodialysis services in hospitals and clinics to have risen by up to 70 per cent in the nine-year period between 2013 and 2022.

This therapy already comprises almost half of NT public hospital admissions and in recent years the number of patients with end-stage kidney disease using palliative care has doubled, the report says.

The Territory has one of the highest rates of kidney disease in the world, which rises further in indigenous communities.

Australian Medical Association NT president Robert Parker called it a "disease of poverty".

"Aboriginal people are dying at six times the rate of other Australians from diabetes, and diabetes are one of the major risk factors for kidney failure," Dr Parker told AAP.

Heavy drinking and smoking, poor nutrition, and a lack of access to education and employment all contributed to greater risk of obesity, type two diabetes and kidney disease, Mr Parker said.

He's pushing for government subsidies for affordable healthy food in outback stores.

"Processed food tends to have a longer shelf life but it also tends to have higher amounts of salt and sugar," he said.

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday show Aboriginal people eat three times more serves of sugary foods than vegetables on a daily basis.

ABS director of health Louise Gates said Aboriginal adults eat less than half of the 5-6 vegetable serves per day recommended by Australia's dietary guidelines.

That's 30 per cent less than non-indigenous people.

"They also consumed just one serve of fruit on average, half the recommended two serves per day," she said.

And 41 per cent of the indigenous population's total daily energy intake came from nutrient-poor foods such as soft drinks, alcohol, cakes, confectionery and pastry products.

On average, this equates to more than six serves of these foods per day, triple the number of vegetable serves consumed.

Indigenous people are consuming an average of 18 teaspoons of sugar per day, which is the equivalent of almost two cans of soft drink.

That's four teaspoons more than non-indigenous Australians and six more than the World Health Organisation's recommendation.

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