Almost 1 in 10 Kiwis living with type 2 diabetes, crisis set to worsen

Leah Panapa 16/11/2021

LISTEN: New Zealand's diabetes epidemic is set to worsen in the next two decades.

November is National Diabetes Action Month, a time when communities across the country focus their attention on diabetes.

Our health system is spending more on treating diabetes than it does treating cancer.

Earlier this year, a PwC report outlined the details of the economic and social costs of the disease.

It said more and more you people are developing type 2 diabetes and the cost is predicted to rise from $2.1bn to $3.5bn in the next 20 years.

Otago University associate professor Ben Wheeler, who is a paediatric endocrinologist, says we are approaching 1 in 10 Kiwis living with type 2 diabetes.

"It's very, very common," he told Magic Talk.

His research focuses on access to and use of new technologies for children and young people affected by diabetes.

Wheeler says while type 2 diabetes is "embedded" in our modern lifestyles, it can be carried through generations as seen in Pacific and indigenous populations who are "particularly" at risk. 

"There is no doubt about that. But there is a strong genetic component as well."

"If you have an identical twin, for instance, who develops type 2 diabetes you've got almost a 100 percent chance of developing type 2 diabetes," he told Magic Talk.

Wheeler says type 2 diabetes can be put into "remission" if a strict lifestyle change is followed.

However, people who are unable to radically change their lifestyle will need medication for life.

"But lifestyle management; changing the way people eat and the way they live, that can certainly make massive inroads in helping both prevent but also manage diabetes," Wheeler said.

Listen to the full interview with Ben Wheeler above.

Magic Talk | Mornings with Leah Panapa, weekdays from 9am

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