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Foodstuffs announces partnership with The Gut Foundation

Nine New Zealanders are diagnosed with bowel cancer every day and Foodstuffs South Island wants to help stop the progression of the second most prevalent disease killing Kiwis.

The Foodstuffs (South Island) Community Trust is delighted to announce a major new sponsorship partnership with the Gut Foundation from February 2020. The charitable organisation was chosen from over thirty applicants by the Trust for the three-year grant.

While gut disease is increasing worldwide, it is particularly prevalent across New Zealand’s South Island. The announcement from the Foodstuffs trust to work in partnership with the Gut Foundation (formerly the Bowel and Liver Trust) follows some worrying figures around gut and bowel disorders.

“There is considerable synergy between the Gut Foundation and Foodstuffs, so it made sense for us to use our trust to help fund research and community awareness for a cause which affects so many people,” says Steve Anderson, CEO Foodstuffs South Island. “We have stores in every part of the South Island, so the Trust can help support community-grounded initiatives and education.”

One of the keys to providing the best care for South Islanders is to encourage local researchers to study the causes and treatment of gut diseases. Christchurch gut researchers have led the world in developing cures for hepatitis C and other liver diseases, and the trust is supporting new diagnostic equipment to manage common conditions such as gastro-oesophageal reflux and gallstone disease.

The situation isn’t just a South Island problem, however, with nine New Zealanders diagnosed with bowel cancer every day. Of these, three will die, making bowel cancer our second-highest cause of death. By the age of 75, New Zealanders have a one in 17 chance of having bowel disease, and there is a significant increase in inflammatory bowel diseases in people between the ages of 15 and 35.

“We are seeing increasing rates of gut disease in New Zealand at all ages, with more inflammatory bowel diseases being diagnosed in people between the ages of 15 and 35. Our work supported by the trust will help us understand better why these rates are increasing, and to create public awareness around potential diagnoses and treatments,” says Christchurch Hospital gastroenterologist and University of Otago Professor Richard Gearry.

“We need to put a lot more time and research into why we are seeing higher incidences in Christchurch. Working with Foodstuffs gives us the opportunity to create networks around the South Island which can help us teach people to think and act on any changes in their bowel habits, much as they would if they had a sore leg or a persistent cough.”

Anderson agrees. “Our new partnership with the Gut Foundation will help provide South Island communities with the knowledge and tools to take greater responsibility for their families’ gut health. It’s our hope this will be a significant step in the reduction of gut disease in the South Island and beyond.”

South Island gut disorders: the facts

• One in 84 Cantabrians has coeliac disease – above the national average of 1 in 100 across New Zealand
• Canterbury and Nelson have one of the highest rates of inflammatory bowel disease in the world – a number that’s still increasing
• South Island communities have the highest rates of bowel cancer in the world.

Gut health in New Zealand: the facts

• 70,000 New Zealanders are living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. This number has doubled in the past decade
• Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) currently affects one in six women, and one in nine men. While IBS can usually be managed with diet, some symptoms can be an indicator of something more serious, requiring medical intervention.

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