Diabetes – New Zealand’s Silent Epidemic

2927 diabetes 1
2927 diabetes 1

Diabetes is emerging fast as the biggest health catastrophe the world has ever seen. It will overwhelm healthcare resources everywhere and will jeopardise the health and lives of over half a million New Zealanders within the next decade.   

A leading cause of death, poorly managed diabetes is the major cause of heart attacks and strokes, kidney failure and blindness. It is the largest contributor to foot and leg amputations and causes impotence. Over 165,000 New Zealanders already have diagnosed diabetes but at least as many again have it without knowing it.     

According to the WHO, Diabetes is going to reduce life expectancy for the first time in 200 years. Despite these alarming figures, little concerted effort has been put into tackling the issue that will affect more New Zealanders than any other. The cost of diabetes to New Zealand’s Health Budget will soar from 4% in 2000 to 14% by 2020. That’s more than one billion dollars extra every year.

However, a large proportion of diabetes care and prevention is self-care.   Through knowledge of one’s own condition, people can change behaviour patterns and empower themselves to make the lifestyle decisions that go such a long way to avoiding the life-threatening complications that can follow in diabetes’ wake.

What is Diabetes?

  • The food we eat cannot be turned into energy to fuel our bodies without a hormone called “Insulin”.
  • Without adequate insulin, blood glucose levels rise above normal with the potential to cause serious damage to the heart, eyes, kidneys, nerves and circulation.  
  • Type 1 Diabetes occurs when there is no insulin (around 10% of cases).
  • Type 2 Diabetes occurs when there is too little insulin or the body is unresponsive to it (around 90% and the cause of the present “epidemic”).   
  • Lifestyle issues are often at the core of diabetes management – healthy food choices, keeping active, good self-management habits and taking any prescribed medications regularly.
  • There are also hereditary elements to the condition and prevalence increases with age
  • Diabetes has no cure and is life-long. It impacts on the whole family and requires 24×7 rigorous self-management to avoid serious long-term health complications.
  • Nevertheless, with knowledge diabetes can generally be managed.

Now in its 50th year, Diabetes NZ Auckland is the local society for the greater Auckland region. To find the Diabetes Society nearest to you, look in your telephone book under “Diabetes” or click here. Membership of Diabetes NZ Auckland is just $20 a year.

Phone Diabetes NZ Auckland on 09 623 2508 for information on courses or visit their website www.diabetesauckland.org.nz to see the full range of services they offer.