New Zealand's Type 2 Diabetes epidemic looking to get worse - report

New Zealand's Type 2 Diabetes epidemic is bad and is looking to get worse. 

Roughly 225,000 people have it right now and a new report by PWC, released on Monday, projects that number's set to more than double by 2040. 

Report spokesperson Dr Jim Mann says it looks as if the country will have "something closer to half a million people" with the disease within 20 years. 

Pasifika people are set to be the worst affected. 

The report finds a quarter of all Pacific people in New Zealand could have Type 2 in the next 20 years.  

Pacific health expert Dr Colin Tukuitonga says this prevalence isn't necessarily due to a genetic predisposition either. 

"If there is a genetic link it's very small. The big thing is environmental conditions where people live, work, play, what they eat."

Diabetes New Zealand CEO Heather Verry warns Type 2 takes a major toll on patient's lives.

"The complications are quite huge, there's renal disease, there's lower limb amputation."

The increase looks to come at a major financial cost too. Type 2 diabetes is estimated to cost the economy $3.5 billion by 2040. 

"To think that one disease is costing us that proportion of our domestic product is scary," Dr Mann says.

Experts say our current approach needs changing. 

"The current approach at the moment is the ambulance at the bottom of the hill," says Verry.

Dr Mann agrees saying the current system is "not even mopping up the mess."

The report calls for the government to fund four interventions to turn things around. 

  • One is a lifestyle programme to prevent type 2 from developing. 
  • The second is for weight loss support. 
  • The third is better medications to manage type 2.
  • And the fourth calls for more money towards foot screening to reduce amputations.

The Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare accepts the current system is failing; "without a shadow of a doubt we've got a mountain to climb."

He says there's work to do, but wouldn't specify what that work was or provide a timeline. 

"We'll sit down and work through the reports and its recommendations in its entirety."

Dr Mann hoped to see action in the "immediate future."

Urgent action to solve a health problem that's heading towards a crisis. 

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