A new international study has been released saying new cases of type 2 diabetes are caused by poor diet.
This comes as Te Pāti Māori launched a petition calling for GST to be removed from all kai in Aotearoa, to create better health outcomes for Māori.
Te Whatu Ora says 250,000 New Zealanders have diabetes, predominantly type 2.
Though not exactly sure what the figures are for Māori, Health Coalition Aotearoa co-chair Dr Lisa Te Morenga, who specialises in nutrition and Māori health research, says it is near the 6 per cent mark, and that 70 per cent of them can attribute their diet to the factor causing diabetes.
There could potentially be more people who don’t know that they have diabetes, and it comes down to some factors outlined by Te Morenga.
“We know that Māori are less likely to see the doctor, particularly Māori men,” Te Morenga says. “That might be because it’s not that comfortable to go and see the doctor.
Doctor’s fee or rent or food?
“In some of our low-income communities, there may be free doctor’s clinics but it’s really hard to get an appointment. With the cost of going to a doctor if you can’t go to see a doctor for free, it’s hard to prioritise it when you’ve got to pay the rent.”
When it comes to Te Pāti Māori’s petition to remove GST from kai, Te Morenga says it’s a complex issue given the country being in a cost of living crisis.
“We just did a survey and 33 per cent of them counted that as the No. 1 issue facing us right now. Māori and Pasifika families are more likely to think that the cost of housing is more important but, if you actually can’t pay your rent, you haven’t got so much money for food.
“Removing GST would make [food] cheaper but it would take some money out of the economy too. I would probably be a bit more nuanced than Te Pāti Māori and suggest that we could perhaps target, removing the GST from the healthy basics.
“Thinking about the basics that we need to support a healthy diet, taking the GST off those could be really good.”