TYPE 2 diabetes affects more than 8600 people in Ipswich - and it's a problem that's only predicted to get bigger as our waistlines grow.
Teachers and diabetes experts are hoping to arrest the increase of the disease in future generations through a school-based cooking class that's all about making quick food options healthier.
Redbank State High School's first group to take part in the Need For Feed program, facilitated through Diabetes Queensland, whipped up their final meal for the program earlier this week.
Home economics teacher Carolyn Holt showed the budding chefs from Years 8-10 how to make chilli con carne, complete with fresh beans and broccoli.
She said the eight-week program generally taught students up to three dishes in each weekly session, done outside of school hours, that they then get to take home.
Ms Holt said much of the problem for the students was the modern reliance on speed and convenience.
Ms Holt said one of aims of Need For Feed was to modify take-away foods such as hamburgers and pizzas into something that can be made quickly - and far healthier - at home. She said parents at home could turn to the internet to find quick and healthy recipes.
Quiches top the list of favourite dishes for Year 8 student and participant Sophie Turner, who said the program had helped teach her about teamwork as well as healthy food choices.
Redbank State High School will run the eight-week program for a second time next semester, with a cost of $20 per student.
MAKING healthy food choices at home and at school is a big factor in preventing type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes Queensland chief executive officer Michelle Trute said evidence suggested there could be up to 24,000 people in Ipswich with diabetes or on their way to having it.
"For every person with type 2 diabetes, there is evidence to suggest there could be almost three more who have undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, prediabetes or are at high risk of developing the condition," she said.
Lack of exercise, being overweight and too much fatty and sugar-filled food are among the risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.
Common symptoms include increased thirst and urination, feeling tired, constant hunger, blurred vision and unexplained weight loss.
You can assess your risk with an online test at diabetesqld.org.au