Taking part in an exercise session on World Diabetes Day
yesterday are (from left) Lupe Hakaumotu, Edward Hakaumotu
(16) and Dilisa Taungapeau, all of Dunedin. Photo by Linda
The Government is more interested in Prince Charles'
visit than in finding ways to combat the "major epidemic" of
diabetes, nutrition and diabetes expert Prof Jim Mann says.
Prof Mann, who recently stepped down as chairman of a
Ministry of Health diabetes advisory group in frustration at
the lack of action on the disease, said he was "substantially
disillusioned" no National MP attended World Diabetes Day at
Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday.
He showed the forum "scary" University of Otago research,
soon to be published, showing disease rates, which for the
first time included pre-diabetes.
In the 55-64 age group, the rate of all forms of the disease
(diagnosed, undiagnosed and pre-diabetic) was nearly 50%.
"If that isn't scary, I don't know what is scary," he said.
Public health programmes were needed to prevent pre-diabetics
developing the disease, which was not where the Government
had decided to focus, he said.
Prince Charles would have understood had National MPs not
attended activities around the Royal visit to free up an MP
to attend the forum, which was the only one of its kind in
New Zealand, he said.
Prof Mann also took a swipe at the Southern District Health
Board for serving unhealthy food at an unrelated workshop
that happened to be running at the same time.
People should write to the board complaining about the food
it was serving, he said.
This was brought to the forum's attention by type 2 diabetic
Errol Sharp, who said he initially went to the wrong floor,
and saw tables "groaning" with raspberry slice for morning
This was an "absolute disgrace", Prof Mann said, as the
unavailability of healthy food was partly responsible for the
Dunedin National list MP and chief whip Michael Woodhouse
said Parliament was sitting, and requests for leave had to be
carefully considered to ensure enough MPs were present to
complete the day's business.
Prof Mann, who he suspected did not understand the workings
of government, needed to "calm down", Mr Woodhouse said.
"Would we say to Prince Charles: 'I'm sorry, these people
won't be coming because somebody else has to go to a diabetes
As whip, he granted leave for two MPs to attend Prince
No New Zealand government had done as much for diabetes as
the present one, he said.
The only politician to attend the Dunedin forum was Labour MP
and health spokeswoman Maryan Street.
She told the Otago Daily Times the lack of
representation from National was an "appalling no-show".
The Government "dismantled" Labour's healthy eating and
exercise reforms, including ones that cost nothing.
Diabetes New Zealand president Chris Baty said New Zealand
was seeing "astounding" increases in diagnosed diabetes of up
to 10% annually. The Government must show leadership,
diabetics must be more vocal and the community at large
needed to be educated, she said.