New Zealand in grips of "silent" diabetes epidemic

Published: Mon 14 Nov 2011 11:59 AM
14th November 2011
New Zealand in grips of "silent" epidemic
Diabetes Awareness Week 15-21 November
Sometimes referred to as a 'silent' assassin, diabetes is at crisis levels. Of high income countries, New Zealand has the fourth highest rate of diabetes. Over 200,000 New Zealanders have diabetes, and every day 40 more people are diagnosed. By 2021 it could cost the country over a billion dollars each year.
"Not enough is being done to tackle diabetes, it is already at epidemic proportions and if we do not act now, it will overwhelm our health system", says Chris Baty, Diabetes New Zealand National President.
Recently world leaders came together in a landmark United Nations Summit in New York where they declared non communicable diseases, like diabetes, a global priority.
"United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has quite rightly labeled non communicable diseases a public health emergency in slow motion", says Chris.
While Type 1 diabetes is unavoidable, the most common form of diabetes in New Zealand, Type 2 diabetes, can mostly be prevented by staying active and choosing healthier foods.
"A key issue is the lack of a national plan of action to both prevent Type 2 diabetes, and make sure all people with diabetes have access to the support they need to live a healthy and active life", says Chris.
"While there is no silver bullet, we know the sort of things that will make a big difference, such as more community based education and support programmes."
Diabetes is a chronic condition that can affect anyone. It can lead to serious health complications, such as cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney disease, and vascular insufficiency - which in turn can result in nerve damage in the feet, and amputation of the lower leg.
Diabetes Awareness Week is a chance to learn about how easy it is to stay healthy and encourage New Zealanders to "Stay Sweet As!". To find more information visit
Diabetes Statistics
• More than 200,000 people in New Zealand have diabetes - mainly Type 2 diabetes
• An estimated further 100,000 people have diabetes, but have not had it diagnosed
• Every day 40 more people are diagnosed with diabetes
• Diabetes costs New Zealand over $250 million a year, and could cost over a billion dollars by 2021
• Of high income countries, New Zealand has the fourth highest rate of diabetes
• 366 million people worldwide have diabetes
• It is estimated diabetes causes 4.6 million deaths each year
• One person is dying from diabetes every seven seconds

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