Diabetes back in the headlines

By Amanda Johnson 27/06/2011 2


New research published in The Lancet this weekend (25 June) highlighted recent global trends in diabetes prevalence, and the results of this study have hit newspaper headlines in New Zealand across the board today.

The scary results of this study showed that, globally, diabetes has more than doubled between 1980 and 2008, with the number of adults with diabetes rising in this period from 153 million to 347 million. Seventy per cent of the rise was due to population growth and ageing, with the other 30 per cent due to higher prevalence. New Zealand has one of the worst rates of obesity and diabetes in the world.

The authors of the study, which was funded by WHO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, conclude that:

’Glycaemia and diabetes are rising globally, driven both by population growth and ageing and by increasing age-specific prevalences. Effective preventive interventions are needed, and health systems should prepare to detect and manage diabetes and its sequelae.’

Check out the Imperial College London website which provides data on metabolic risk factors in different countries, including New Zealand, with information on diabetes, blood glucose levels, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol. Some worrying results here for our nation.

The New Zealand Herald focuses its report on the fact that here in New Zealand we are among the world’s worst in terms of diabetes cases. Several of the experts quoted in the article express concern about New Zealand’s high obesity rates and emphasise the need for concerted action to tackle this if we really want to reduce the incidence of Type 2 diabetes.

Health Minister Tony Ryall is quoted in the Dominion Post as saying, ”Progress on diabetes is one of the Government’s six main health targets. We are spending around $65 million on keeping children and people active.”

This apparently includes a KiwiSport initiative promoting sport for school-aged children; Green Prescriptions which encourage health professionals to advise patients to get active; and nutritional programmes including the Healthy Eating Healthy Action programme.

However, many of us working at the coal face of healthcare in New Zealand would agree that this is just not enough and we need to see more investment in the health of New Zealanders. So many people walk through the doors of my dietetic clinic struggling to lose weight in this obesogenic environment and really need a lot of help and support from their health professional team to achieve their health and weight loss goals.

Diabetes has been described by the authors of The Lancet study as one of the biggest causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. It is high time New Zealand took this problem more seriously by implementing initiatives to improve nutrition across all population groups, from young children to older people, as well as promoting physical activity and supporting those who wish to implement healthier behaviours


2 Responses to “Diabetes back in the headlines”

  • The Herald noted
    Other badly affected countries included many Pacific Island nations. In the Marshall Islands one in three women and one in four men have diabetes.
    No mention of the study in which volunteers consumed only 600 cal per day to cure type 2 diabetes in half the triallists. It must be cheaper than drugs.
    One triallist said it was very very hard but worth it.

  • Yes, the diabetes study reported in the media over the weekend was interesting too. Eleven people with Type 2 diabetes who followed a short term diet of 600kcal per day. Normalisation of both beta cell function and hepatic insulin sensitivity was achieved by dietary energy restriction. Clearly, diet has an important role to play in the management of Type 2 diabetes, and weight reduction can have a significant impact.