Where is diabetes going in New Zealand?

On both sides of our families we have diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Since starting out in Sugar Free Food we've been learning more about the state of diabetes in New Zealand and we'd like to share some of our findings. 

It is not good. 

According to the Diabetes New Zealand Healthy Food and Drink in Schools submission:

  • Did you know that New Zealand ranks 29th out of 30 countries in the OECD for child health and safety? (That is rather shameful.)
  • One-third of children aged 2-14 years are either overweight (21%) or obese (8%). Most children who are obese tend to go on to be obese in adulthood.
  • In New Zealand, we consume on average about 37 teaspoons of sugar per day in the food we eat and in what we drink. The recommended daily dose is just 3-4 teaspoons, so we are 10X that!
  • One single 600ml bottle of soft drink contains up to 16 teaspoons of sugar - almost half of the daily recommended intake.

That provides the backdrop for an unfortunate future.

Where to from here?

The forward-looking Diabetes New Zealand report Economic and Social Cost of Type 2 Diabetes compiled with PwC and a range of partners, explains:

  • The number of New Zealanders with type 2 diabetes expected to increase by 70-90% in 20 years. 
  • The estimated annual cost of diabetes in NZ $2.1 billion (0.67% GDP), projected to increase by 63% to $3.5 billion in 20 years. (This could be more than $5 billion if adjusted for inflation.)


Government is not helping

I read that the government has taken diabetes off the list of "problems" as they achieved their targets back in 2016. Yet this is not going away at all - it is getting worse! 

As individuals we can do something of course. We can educate our family and children on the harm that comes with overeating sugar or an inactive lifestyle, but if my kids are any example, that will probably be met with rejection.

It's up to us

A better way to engage on this subject may be not to engage. 

What do I mean by that? I mean that you can replace the sugar in your family diet while maintaining sweetness and enjoyment without even telling them.  

Or as we are doing in our family, we can show the kids the alternatives to sugar and actively make foods with natural sweeteners that they enjoy. 

Type 2 diabetes is something that can be avoided with the right lifestyle choices. It can even be reversed if caught early and changes made toward healthy living, with sugar-reduced and low-calorie food. 

Natural sweeteners are on the rise globally and the demand is very much being driven by the above factors: weight and diabetes management.

If you or anyone in your family is at risk of diabetes, give natural sweeteners a go. 

If anyone who reads this article would like to share how they use our products, we would love to hear from you: hello(at)sugarfreefood.co.nz


If you would like to donate toward Diabetes New Zealand, please visit their site at: https://www.diabetes.org.nz/donate

Diabetes New Zealand