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It takes a village — addressing obesity and type 2 diabetes as a community

Tuesday 28 September 2021 5:16pm

Dr Ole Schmiedel, a consultant in Endocrinology and Diabetes at the Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) and a member of the EDOR advisory board, has called for more to be done to stem the impact of the type 2 diabetes epidemic in a recent article published in Scoop health NZ.

Obesity and type 2 diabetes are closely linked

Obesity is a key risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes — 80% of patients with type 2 diabetes are considered obese. In addition, the life expectancy of those living with severe or morbid obesity is shortened by approximately 8-10 years. Currently, almost one in three people living in Aotearoa (over the age of 15 years) are obese.

Dr Schmiedel is particularly concerned about the rising incidence of type 2 diabetes in children and young adults, as this early presentation causes a more aggressive disease, greater numbers of complications and earlier death from complications of the disease, than diabetes diagnosed in older age groups.

“Two decades ago, type 2 diabetes in childhood and adolescents was virtually unknown, however now it is common for patients of this age group to present with the disease."

Weight loss can prevent type 2 diabetes

Dr Schmiedel says weight loss of 5-10% in adults with type 2 diabetes can increase the likelihood of disease remission as well as improving other obesity related conditions such as heart disease and preventing certain types of cancer. But talking about weight is not easy:

“It is essential that we never blame and shame those who carry excess weight and struggle with obesity. As a society we need to broaden our understanding that there are many social determinants of health, including our obesogenic environment, which is responsible for this problem."

To prevent type 2 diabetes, Dr Schmiedel says it is important that we, as a community, address weight without stigmatisation and blame, and with support from friends and whānau. It is a crucial step in preventing this looming disease epidemic.

Read the Scoop article

‘Weight Loss Of 5-10% Could Save Thousands Of Kiwis From Diabetes’, Scoop Health, 23 September, 2021

Find out more about preventing type 2 diabetes