Diabetes Week begins in Parliament
Wellington November 19: Members of Parliament from the National Party, Maori Party, Green Party and Labour Party including Tony Ryall and Pita Sharples were tested for diabetes in Parliament on November 16. The event was attended by over 100 parliamentarians and the results were surprising for many who came away with a higher blood pressure/blood glucose (risk factors for diabetes) than expected and were asked by the on-site nurses to see a medical professional for professional guidance following the results.
There was a strong presence from Ministers with Indian, Chinese, Samoan, Moari, Pacific and Asian backgrounds and the nurses on site felt that this was a very positive sign as it is these communities in particular that are most at risk.
The nurses carrying out the testing put this down to a busy lifestyle which includes stress, eating out a lot, alcohol consumption and lack of exercises. Many had high risk factors without realizing it or thought they were managing their health well but found out through the awareness day that there were in fact things that they could be doing a lot better. The event was useful in making many of the ministers realize that they need to be more aware of their lifestyle choices and the messages are simple: be aware of what your eating and make sure you are doing 30 minutes of exercise a day (most of them were not).
“Diabetes is a growing concern in modern society, the symptoms are not always obvious and it is widely undiagnosed. Diabetes Awareness Week is a valuable opportunity for the wider community to learn more about simple lifestyle choices that can be made to reduce the risk of developing diabetes and take time out to seek professional advice if you are diagnosed or concerned about your health” Health Minister, Hon Tony Ryall said.
“The impact of diabetes is not just on our health and wellbeing. It threatens to affect our economy and workforce due to the long term effects in some people which can include amputation, death, blindness, heart attacks, stroke and kidney disease, not to mention how much it is costing tax payers in healthcare costs. It is not sustainable and we are eating ourselves into an early grave. Rather than relying on the health system to fix it we need to collectively work together to prevent it. That’s what this year's Diabetes Awareness Week is about, encouraging people to make small progressive steps in the fight against diabetes.” DNZ President, Chris Baty said.
One of the practicing nurses today, who has done other awareness events in parliament said that today’s event was most successful in terms of attendance and awareness showing just how important diabetes is as an issue and how concerned the government are about it and its causes and effects. Over 210,000 in New Zealand are affected by Diabetes and New Zealand is second in the world (behind US) for life lost to diabetes (further facts and eating/exercise tips attached). Government spent only 3 to 4% of the health budget on diabetes 10 years ago, but it is estimated that by 2021, the cost to tax payers will increase by 15%.
The event marked the start of Diabetes Awareness Week 2010 (November 16 to 22). The theme for this year is “Stay Sweet As” and focuses on exercise and healthy eating, for free personalized eating and exercise tips and to try our “sweet-o-meter” for risk assessment please go to: www.staysweetas.co.nz. A fact sheet and eating and exercise tips are attached.
Other ministers that participated included:
National Party: Tony Ryall, Craig Foss, Nicky Wagner, Paul Hutchinson, Michael Woodhouse, Jackie Blue, Paul Quinn, Simon Bridges, Melissa Lee, Amy Adams, Kanwal Singh, Todd Mclay, Louise Upston, Sam Peseta, Nathan Guy, Tim Mzcinode, Chris Tremain, Cam Calder, Peesta Sam, Tim Macinode, Jo Goodhew
Labour: Ross Robertson, Steve Chadwick, Rajen Prasad, Bredan Burns
Maori Party – all 5 members including Pita Sharples
Green Party – Kevin Hague and co-leaders, Sue Kedgely
Press Release from Diabetes NZ