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World Diabetes Day – 14 November 2001



13 November 2001

World Diabetes Day - 14 November 2001

Diabetes - Take it to Heart!

If the world-wide prediction that the number of people with diabetes will double in 20 years, then the outlook for heart and blood vessel disease becomes even more alarming.

The number of people with diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes, is rapidly increasing around the world. At the same time the number of complications which are associated with diabetes, such as heart attacks, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and limb amputations, are increasing.

“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in people with diabetes. International statistics show that people with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people without diabetes,” said Ian Middlemiss, President of Diabetes New Zealand.

Additionally, many people presenting heart disease are then going on to be diagnosed with diabetes.

“There are as many as 60,000 New Zealanders with diabetes but they do not know it. Many people do not realise they have diabetes until the complications of diabetes have already developed,” said Mr Middlemiss. “International research shows that if people at risk of diabetes seek early treatment the complications of diabetes can be avoided or prevented.

The World Health Organisation recognises diabetes as one of four non-communicable disease priorities world-wide. The others - heart and blood vessel disease, cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - are all linked by common preventable risk factors related to lifestyle.

“A healthy lifestyle is key to reversing the trend of rising diabetes and heart and blood vessel disease,” said Dr Diana North, Medical Director of the National Heart Foundation of New Zealand.

“Eating a healthy balanced diet, not smoking and keeping physically active will have a significant impact on people’s risk of getting heart disease and type 2 (or adult on-set) diabetes.

“The more risk factors a person has, such as smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity, the greater the risk of developing heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

“A balanced diet high in fruit and vegetables, breads and cereals, fish, nuts and seeds with moderate amounts of low fat dairy products and small servings of lean meat, actively protects the heart and prevents the onset of type 2 diabetes.

“It is never too late to make changes,” said Dr North.

“People need to be actively involved in their own health. The incidence of diabetes is increasing to epidemic proportions and now is the time for New Zealanders to act,” said Mr Middlemiss.

Co-sponsored by the International Diabetes Federation and the World Health Organisation, the key objectives of World Diabetes Day forms part of a three-year programme to educate people about the complications of diabetes. This year’s Diabetes Awareness Week from 20 - 26 November is also based on the complications, with a particular emphasis on sight.


Risk factors for diabetes

- European descent and over 40 years of age.

- Maori, Pacific Island or Asian descent and over 30 years of age.

- Overweight.

- Have a family history of diabetes.

- Have given birth to large babies (9lbs/4kg or over).

- Had high blood glucose levels during pregnancy.

- Have high cholesterol or high blood pressure.

Risk factors of heart disease

- Increase of age

- Gender - men greater risk than women

- Raised blood pressure

- Raised cholesterol

- Smoking

- Diabetes

- Obesity

- Lack of physical activity

- Family history of heart disease

There are three types of diabetes

Type 1 diabetes - an estimated 11,000 people in New Zealand have Type 1 diabetes. It is more common in European people than Maori or Pacific people. Most people with Type 1 diabetes develop it as children or teenagers.

Type 2 diabetes - approximately 105,000 people in New Zealand have Type 2 diabetes. Maori and Pacific people are more than twice as likely as European people to develop Type 2 diabetes. Most people with Type 2 diabetes develop it after the age of 40. People over 40 years who are overweight or inactive (especially Maori, Pacific Islanders or Asian people) are most at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Gestational diabetes - occurs in some women while pregnant. Blood glucose levels usually return to normal once the baby is born, but women who have gestational diabetes are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. Diabetes in pregnancy remains a leading cause of congenital abnormalities, stillbirths and miscarriages.

(Source: Ministry of Health)

About Diabetes New Zealand

Diabetes New Zealand is an incorporated society established in 1962. It is a non-government, non-profit organisation that advocates for people with diabetes, raises awareness of diabetes, builds local support groups, and encourages research and improved treatment. With 12,000 members in 36 local societies, the organisation represents approximately 115,000 people currently known to have diabetes. Diabetes New Zealand’s website is at

For further information contact:

Your local Diabetes Society or

Ian Middlemiss, President, Diabetes New Zealand on 025 657 1826, or

Tracy Dillimore Network Communications, 025 405 595, or

Moira MacDonald, Communications Manager, National Heart Foundation on (09) 571 9191.

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