5 November 2018

A healthy retirement: Act now to live well

Diabetes - It’s the condition that already affects nearly quarter of a million New Zealanders and its incidence is growing at an alarming rate.

In 2017, the Ministry of Health estimated more than 245,000 Kiwis have diabetes, approximately 90% of whom have type 2 diabetes. Over the last five years, this number has grown an average of 7% per year, and it is estimated that a further 100,000 Kiwis have type 2 diabetes but remain undiagnosed.

If 7% growth doesn’t sound like much, then perhaps you should know that this represents a staggering 40 people a day now being diagnosed with diabetes. These figures also mean that almost one in 4 Kiwis are either living with type 2 diabetes right now, or are likely to develop it soon, unless immediate changes are made to their lifestyles.

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 enjoy an excellent quality of life well into retirement age and beyond.


Are you aware of your risk of developing diabetes?

Awareness of your level of risk of developing type 2 diabetes is a good starting point to know if you need to visit your health professional for appropriate testing. Just answer the quick questions here and you will receive a score which will help with understanding your level of risk and next steps.

 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.


How can I lower my risk?

The good news here is that 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 or family and take action together to reduce your risk of diabetes, manage diabetes, or support someone you know with diabetes, here's how: 


1. 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 for more information on healthy eating, and the new Eat Well, Live Well recipe book from Diabetes NZ for delicious, affordable and family-friendly meals.


2. Get 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.


3. 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.
Check out Diabetes NZ’s Take Control Toolkit (on the Diabetes NZ website or in your app store), for helpful tools and tips on food & nutrition, physical activity, health & wellbeing.


For more information about diabetes, or to support our life-saving work throughout New Zealand, visit us at: or phone toll-free on 0800 DIABETES (342 238)