13 May 2006
Self Management is the Key to Diabetes
The Government inquiry into obesity has brought Diabetes into the centre of public attention in ways that we have never
before seen said Diabetes New Zealand President Murray Dear at the opening of the Association’s annual conference in
Christchurch today (Saturday 13 May, 2006).
“The community has recently ‘discovered’ the obesity epidemic. The spectre of morbidly overweight children and early
onset on Type 2 Diabetes has been the trigger to a realisation that there really is an epidemic and it is out of
control, and not just for children,” says Mr Dear.
“Diabetes is the hidden factor behind obesity, often masked by associated ailments such as heart disease. The challenge
is to ensure there are strong positive recommendations from the inquiry that galvanise the community into arresting the
epidemic,” says Mr Dear.
The theme of the conference is “self management” of Diabetes. Diabetes Type 2 is a disease that responds best to
lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise and these are a personal responsibility.
“The difficulty for many people and especially the increasing numbers of young people is that they are not used to
managing themselves, in fact, many are in the situation they are in because they haven’t managed themselves. That’s the
challenge for health professionals and our organisation,” says Mr Dear.
The conference is to be addressed by the Minister of Health Pete Hodgson who will outline initiatives planned by
Government in the next three years. There will also be presentations by diabetes professionals on the challenges of
building a self-management culture amongst New Zealanders.
“Providing information is simply not enough, any more than telling people that smoking is not good for them or speeding
is illegal. We have to change behaviour as well as build knowledge and awareness. Some people, especially those with the
Type 1 genetically-driven form of Diabetes, are able to operate at a high level of personal responsibility and limited
external intervention is required once people are self managing, others will not change without active engagement with
health professionals and support organisations such as Diabetes New Zealand.
“So often much of the damage is done before people realise they even have the disease and, of course, diabetes is
“I believe our messages need to be stronger and firmer and they need to be closely co-ordinated with the health
professionals operating in the field of obesity and Diabetes,” says Mr Dear.
The conference was opened by Anne Hartley, MP, Assistant Speaker and Member of the Health Select Committee. Professor
Martin Silink, President Elect of the International Diabetes Federation is in New Zealand and will present the case for
a United Nations Resolution on Diabetes to the conference.