Diabetes is New Zealand’s fastest-growing health crisis, affecting more than a quarter of a million people. The number of New Zealanders living with diabetes has doubled from 125,000 to 265,000 [i] in the past 10 years, with 40 new diabetes diagnoses every day.

Everyone is at risk of diabetes and one in four New Zealanders is believed to have prediabetes.

  • That’s more than a million people, who in many cases, could prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes with a healthy lifestyle of nutritional eating and regular exercise.

Taking your men’s health check and visiting a health professional is a great way to assess your risk of diabetes. There are so many simple ways you can reduce your risk.

How much do you know about diabetes? Take the quiz


Small Steps leading to Big Changes

What you CAN’T change

  • Your age
  • Your ethnic background
  • Your family history

What you CAN change

  • Your weight
  • The amount of physical activity you do
  • What you eat
  • Smoking

Small Steps to BIG changes

  • Reduce weight
  • Be active for 30 minutes or more most days of the week
  • Eat healthy food
  • Achieve and maintain good control of your blood pressure and blood cholesterol
  • Get an annual heart and diabetes check from a health professional

About Diabetes:

Diabetes is an enduring disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin, or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that acts like a key to let glucose from the food we eat pass from the blood stream into the cells in the body to produce energy.

There are three main types of diabetes:
Type 1
 diabetes is usually caused by an auto-immune reaction where the body’s defence system attacks the cells that produce insulin. People with type 1 diabetes produce very little or no insulin. People of any age can be affected, but it usually develops in children or young adults. People with type 1 diabetes need injections of insulin every day to control the levels of glucose in their blood.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for at least 90% of all cases of diabetes. It can occur at any age and remain undetected for many years. It is often diagnosed following a complication or routine blood test. Often people with type 2 diabetes can initially manage their condition through exercise and diet, however, over time some people will require oral drugs and or insulin. One in four New Zealanders is estimated to have pre-diabetes, when the glucose in your blood is higher than normal but not high enough to be deemed diabetes.

Gestational diabetes occurs when a pregnant woman has high levels of glucose in her blood. Gestational diabetes is temporary and usually goes after pregnancy. However, a woman who has had gestational diabetes has a 50-60% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.


  1. The number of New Zealanders living with diabetes has doubled from 125,000 to 265,000[ii] in the past 10 years. It is believed approximately 90% of those new diagnoses are type 2.
  2. There are, on average, 40 new diabetes diagnoses every day in New Zealand.
  3. One in four (25%) New Zealanders are estimated to have prediabetes.
  4. In 2013, the highest rate of diabetes in New Zealand was in the Indian ethnic group (11 percent), followed by Pacific peoples (9.6 percent)[iii].
  5. Maori are three times as likely to have type 2 diabetes as non-Maori, and are more likely to develop complications[iv].Type 2 diabetes is increasingly occurring in Maori and Pacific children under the age of 15 years[v].
  6. In 2008 the estimated direct cost for type 2 diabetes was $600 million per year. The forecast cost of diabetes was predicted to rise to approx $1,770 million in 2021/22.[vi]
  7. A person’s risk of progressing from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes can be roughly halved if they lose weight, change their diet, increase exercise and/or have drug treatment.


[i] Source – Ministry of Health Virtual Diabetes Register 2019

[ii] Source – Ministry of Health Virtual Diabetes Register 2019

[iii] (Ministry of Health 2014f).Screening, Diagnosis and Management of Gestational Diabetes in New Zealand: A clinical practice guideline. Wellington: Ministry of Health.

[iv] (Ministry of Health 2014a).Diabetes Quality Care Standards Toolkit. Wellington: Ministry of Health.

[v] In a study by Jefferies et al (2012), the annual incidence of new cases of type 2 diabetes in children under the age of 15 years increased fivefold in the Auckland region from 1995-2007; 90 percent of the new cases were of Maori or Pacific ethnicity. From – Jefferies C, Carter P, Reed PW, et al. 2012. The incidence, clinical features and treatment of type 2 diabetes in children <15yr in a population-based cohort from Auckland, New Zealand, 1995-2007. Paediatric Diabetes 13: 294-300.

[vi])Diabetes New Zealand and PriceWaterhouseCoopers