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Diabetes prevention strategy involves 15,000 Mâori

Ambitious diabetes prevention strategy to involve 15,000 Mâori

Strong collaboration between researchers, iwi, and Government will ensure the success of an ambitious investigation into the prevention of diabetes in Mâori, says one of the project’s key researchers.

Associate Professor Elaine Rush, Director of Auckland University of Technology’s Body Composition and Metabolism Research Centre, will join research collaborators from the Waikato District Health Board, University of Auckland and other agencies to launch Te Wai o Rona: Diabetes prevention strategy at 4pm today Thursday, 18 December, at the Bryant Education Centre, Waikato Hospital Campus, Hamilton.

The project will involve 15,000 Waikato Mâori being screened for diabetes risk. Half of the participants will receive a mixed community and personal health approach to changing lifestyle within a kaupapa Mâori framework. It is anticipated that this may reduce the proportion of these Mâori developing diabetes and reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors.

“We are confident we can demonstrate a reduction in new cases of diabetes by 35 per cent within the 50 per cent of participants taking part in the medium intensity, tailored lifestyle programme,” she says.

Associate Professor Rush, project leader Professor David Simmons of Auckland University, research collaborators from the Waikato District Health Board, and other agencies proposed the diabetes prevention strategy to the Health Research Council earlier this year. Associate Professor Rush believes the success of the proposal was due largely to its broad-based community partnership approach.

“The programme will engage directly with the community and involve a variety of organisations co-operating toward the single aim of preventing a disease which is largely attributable to lifestyle,” says Associate Professor Rush. more

The lifestyle programme will be led by 40 specially trained Mâori Community Health Workers (MCHWs) and supported by existing educators, dieticians and activity specialists. “The contribution of my research and education expertise to this very real partnership between Mâori and Health services is the most exciting and potentially most useful opportunity of my research career.”

Type two diabetes is a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, cardiovascular disease and early death. It is a major public health problem among Mâori and has been identified at the local, regional and national level.

The research team believes the benefits of the project will go beyond those related to diabetes and help the control of other non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, hypertension and obesity, says Associate Professor Rush.

If the strategy is shown to be effective the team hopes it will be used across New Zealand.

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