Diabetes is defined by the body's inability to control blood glucose.  Type 1 diabetes is primarily an inherited condition generally diagnosed in childhood.  Type 2 diabetes is usually thought of as an adult disease, but is increasingly being diagnosed in children.

Obesity increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, although a family history of diabetes is also a major risk factor.  Diabetes can have potentially serious complications and is often associated with obesity, high blood pressure, gout and high cholesterol.  It is estimated that 4.4% of people in the Canterbury DHB area have diabetes, and that more than 200,000 people have been diagnosed with the disease (predominantly Type 2 diabetes) in New Zealand.

There are significant disparities in the prevalence and outcome of diabetes in New Zealand.  Māori, Pacific and Asian people have higher rates of diabetes than other New Zealanders, and significantly higher hospitalisation and mortality rates.  Diabetes is also associated with socio-economic deprivation, with people from the most deprived areas being more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than the least deprived.

Incidence and mortality rates for Type 2 diabetes are expected to increase over the next 20 years (along with pre-diabetes, insulin resistance, and obesity).  The biggest impact will be on Māori, Pacific people, and those living in deprived neighbourhoods.  Worldwide, it is estimated that up to 80% of Type 2 diabetes is preventable by appropriate lifestyle changes.

Read the full issue summary for diabetes [PDF] - updated March 2013.