It’s the condition that affects nearly a quarter of a million New Zealanders and is growing at an unprecedented rate. In 2017 the Ministry of Health estimated more than 245,000 Kiwis have diabetes, approximately 90 per cent of whom have type 2 diabetes. Over the past five years, this number has grown by an average of 5,000 per year, and the Ministry of Health estimates that a further 100,000 Kiwis have type 2 diabetes but are undiagnosed.

What is type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces. Unlike type 1 diabetes, which occurs suddenly due to an auto-immune reaction, type 2 diabetes is a slow-onset metabolic condition in which the body progressively fails to produce insulin and body cells resist insulin action.

Symptoms usually include feeling tired and lacking energy, feeling thirsty, going to the toilet often, getting frequent infections, poor eyesight or blurred vision and often feeling hungry. However, not everyone with type 2 diabetes has symptoms, which is why it’s important to know if you’re at risk. Everyone is at risk of type 2 diabetes, some more than others.

An early diagnosis means you can take action to manage the condition and help reduce the chances of developing complications such as blindness, kidney disease, limb amputations or heart disease due to nerve or blood vessel damage.

Act now to live well

During Diabetes Action Month this November, Diabetes New Zealand is challenging all Kiwi families to act now to live well. Whether you have diabetes, are at risk of diabetes, or support someone with diabetes, you can act now to make a difference to your health and live well. Here’s how:

Eat healthy food

Making healthy food choices can help reduce your risk of developing diabetes. Eating healthy food is also an essential part of managing diabetes as it helps with blood glucose control.

Visit diabetes.org.nz for more information on healthy eating, and the new Eat Well, Live Well recipe book from Diabetes New Zealand for delicious, affordable and family friendly meals.

Do regular physical activity

Exercise is great for everyone, especially those with diabetes, as it can help manage blood glucose levels. Thirty minutes or more of moderate physical activity each day can also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Keep your weight in a healthy range

Excess weight can add pressure to your body’s ability to use insulin properly and control blood glucose levels. Keeping your weight at a healthy range can help reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, or help manage the condition if you have it.

The good news is that eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Check out Diabetes New Zealand’s Take Control Toolkit (on the Diabetes New Zealand website or in your app store), for helpful tools and tips on food and nutrition, physical activity,and health and wellbeing.

Find your circle of support

With support, it’s possible to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes or live well with diabetes if you have it. Connect with friends and wha-nau to take action together to reduce your risk of diabetes, manage diabetes, or support someone you know with diabetes.

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