Nearly a fifth of New Zealand adults face a high risk of
living with diabetes, and an ''alarmingly high'' level of a
pre-diabetes condition should be of major concern to
policymakers, researchers say.
Researchers from the University of Otago's Edgar National
Centre for Diabetes and Obesity Research have raised these
issues in a study published in the New Zealand Medical
The study was based on an analysis of blood test results of
the adult population that was undertaken by Dr Kirsten
Coppell, Prof Jim Mann and colleagues from the centre.
Implementation of ''effective evidence-based diabetes
prevention strategies'' was urgently needed to reduce the
''increasing costs of the diabetes epidemic,'' Dr Coppell
said. The study results, particularly the number of people
with pre-diabetes, on top of an already high national
diabetes rate, should be of major concern to policymakers and
''It's a big problem - we've all got to start working at
it,'' she said in an interview yesterday. The blood samples
came from the 2008-09 New Zealand Adult Nutrition Survey,
work that Otago University researchers conducted on behalf of
the Ministry of Health, with key survey findings released in
A total of 3348 (71%) of survey participants gave blood for
And this showed that, as at 2008-09, the diagnosed diabetes
rate was 7% among adults, aged 15 and over.
This rate was ''already high'' and comparison with earlier
data showed diabetes prevalence was rising.
But those with pre-diabetes - a glucose metabolism disorder
that typically leads to diabetes- amounted to 18.6% of the
overall adult population.
That meant the prevalence of actual diabetes (type 2) was set
to rise significantly in subsequent years.
Diabetes is a common chronic disease with significant
morbidity, mortality and cost.
''We found an alarmingly high prevalence of a glucose
metabolism disorder - diabetes or pre-diabetes - in working
''Almost 20% of those aged 35-44 years, more than 25% of
those aged 45-54 years and almost 45% of those aged 55-64
years had a glucose metabolism disorder, or pre-diabetes.''
The implications of increased diabetes-related morbidity,
mortality and health care costs were ''considerable''.
But international studies also offered a message of hope,
that increased regular physical activity and improved diet,
with less saturated fat and sugar, could prevent people with
pre-diabetes from developing diabetes itself.
She and her colleagues also hope to attract funding for
further research into the effectiveness of dietary
intervention at general practitioner level for those with
Diabetes prevalence was higher among the obese group (14.2%),
compared with the normal weight group (2.4%), and one-quarter
of those who were obese had pre-diabetes.