New figures show diabetes causes more than 1000 amputations every year in New Zealand, and a raft of other health problems including blindness, kidney failure and death.

In an exclusive interview, Associate Health Minister Peeni Henare says measures like a sugar tax should be considered to drive up the cost of junk food and drink, along with warning labels.

Growing up, speakers on Henare's Northland marae would lose legs to diabetes, and tell him and other children tall tales about shark bites or other events.

"It was something that wasn't discussed. But you knew it was there. I know these people, I know them well, I'm related to them," he says of the disease's silent and growing toll.

Sugar taxes and warning labels should be considered to "turn the tide" on a diabetes disaster now causing more than 1000 amputations every year, the Associate Health Minister says.

In a wide-ranging interview with the


Why amputations happen