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Associate Professor Ben Wheeler talks diabetes

Friday 17 December 2021 3:19pm

Associate Professor Ben Wheeler, an EDOR researcher at the University of Otago and paediatric endocrinologist at the SDHB, spoke with Leah Panapa at Magic Talk last month about diabetes.

While Professor Wheeler's research predominantly focuses on new technologies for children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes, he sees all forms of diabetes as part of his clinical work. There are approximately 25,000 New Zealanders affected by type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease which destroys the body's ability to make insulin, an important hormone that control blood glucose levels.

The similarly named, but very different disease, type 2 diabetes results in a resistance of the body's tissues to the actions of insulin. Type 2 diabetes, together with its precursor prediabetes, affects more than one million New Zealanders and is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, blindness, limb amputations, and a whole range of other negative health effects, including poor outcomes from a COVID-19 infection.

Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 is largely preventable and appears to be closely associated with obesity. Type 2 diabetes can be treated using nutritional therapy or bariatric surgery, but requires on-going lifestyle changes to maintain this remission.

A key theme of the recent Diabetes Action Month was better footcare for those living with diabetes. The inaugural Sneaker Friday on 19 November raised funds and awareness for this issue, following the Economic and Social Cost of Type 2 Diabetes report finding that better diabetes footcare in Aotearoa New Zealand could prevent up to 600 amputations per year.

Listen to the Magic Talk interview

Ben Wheeler: Almost 1 in 10 Kiwis living with type 2 diabetes, Magic Mornings, 16 November, 2021 (11 mins)

Follow EDOR's diabetes research

EDOR conducts research into type 1 and type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and gestational diabetes, by investigating the mechanism of disease, developing new technologies for those living with diabetes, and determining how we can better treat and prevent these conditions.

Diabetes research at EDOR

Read more about Sneaker Friday

Find out more about the Cost of Type 2 Diabetes report