Diabetes in New Zealand surges

by Barbara Hewitt on March 7, 2013

Above average levels of the protein SFRP4 could indicate risk of type 2

Diabetes in New Zealand surges

New Zealand is facing an alarming rise in the number of people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes with nearly a fifth of the country’s adult population at risk, new research has found. A team of scientists at the Edgar National Centre for Diabetes and Obesity Research at the University of Otago analysed blood test results from thousands of adults who took part in the 2008/2009 NZ Adult Nutrition Survey and compared them with measurements taken in 1967.

They found that the rate of diagnosed diabetes in 2008/2009 was 7% of the population in adults aged 15 years and over, and this was ‘already high. ‘These data, when compared with the first measurements taken in 1967, provide convincing evidence that the prevalence of diabetes in New Zealand has increased over time. This is consistent with observations worldwide,’ said Dr Kirsten Coppell, the lead researcher.

However the data also revealed that those with pre-diabetes, a glucose metabolism disorder that typically leads to diabetes, was 18.6% of the adult population, meaning that prevalence of type 2 diabetes is set to rise significantly in subsequent years. ‘We found an alarmingly high prevalence of a glucose metabolism disorder, diabetes or pre-diabetes, in working age groups. Almost 20% of those aged 35 to 44 years, more than 25% of those aged 45 to 54 years and almost 45% of those aged 55 to 64 years had a glucose metabolism disorder, or pre-diabetes,’ she explained.

She added that the results, particularly the numbers with pre-diabetes, on top of an already high national diabetes rate, should be of major concern to policy makers and health funders. The Otago researchers also found that the blood sample data showed diabetes was more frequent in men at 8.3% than in women at 5.8%. The prevalence of diabetes was higher among the obese group at 14.2%, compared with the normal weight group at 2.4%, and a quarter of those who were obese had pre-diabetes.

Quote from DiabetesForum.com : “I am 53 and live in a small town in the north of NZ and have late onset type 1. I have just started injecting insulin in the last month.”

The research shows that the prevalence of diabetes differs markedly among ethnic groups at 15.4% for those from the Pacific, 9.8% in Maoris and 6.1% among those of New Zealand European and others. ‘The implications of increased diabetes-related morbidity, mortality and health care costs are considerable. The implementation of effective evidence based diabetes prevention strategies is urgently required to reduce the increasing costs of the diabetes epidemic,’ said Coppell.

Coppell and her colleagues now hope to attract funding for further research into the effectiveness of dietary intervention during primary care at GP level for those with pre-diabetes.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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