Thousands of people within the Lakes region suffer daily from diabetes and one expert says not enough is being done in Rotorua to combat the chronic disease.

Diabetes New Zealand Rotorua branch president and national vice president Karen Reid says more needs to be done to educate and raise awareness of the risks of diabetes.

According to the most recent Ministry of Health figures, there were 5790 diagnosed cases of diabetes in the Lakes District Health Board region, which includes Rotorua and Taupo, as at December 2014.

Of that, 35 per cent were Maori. Nationally Maori made up 14.4 per cent.


"Diabetes is a global concern but Rotorua is fighting its own problems. People are not aware of the risks of developing type 2 diabetes. There needs to be access to more community nutrition and dietary experts in the city," Ms Reid said.

Of those diagnosed, 90 per cent suffer from type 2 diabetes which is primarily caused by choice of lifestyle.

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Ms Reid believed Rotorua was worse than many other regions, attributing that largely to the high Maori population.

"Maori and Pacific Island people are at higher risk of developing diabetes and coupled with lack of education and poor lifestyle choices, we are seeing a high rate of diagnosed cases of type 2 diabetes in Rotorua.

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"Probably the most alarming thing is that we are seeing children being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It's rare but it is happening and it's concerning because in the past diabetes was a condition people in their 70s were diagnosed with.

"There are a lot of documented risks associated with diabetes including higher risks of heart disease, strokes, amputation, blindness and kidney failure.

"Traditionally the older people diagnosed would not live long enough to develop those complications but if we are starting to see children and young adults develop diabetes, those added complications become a very real risk."

Ms Reid's comments came as yesterday's World Health Day focused on beating the chronic disease, which has quadrupled world-wide since 1980.

Rotorua Principals' Association president Grant Henderson said schools were aware of the risks and had strategies in place to combat factors leading to type 2 diabetes.

"Many schools in the region are health promoting schools which is a proactive strategy run by the Lakes District Health Board. It is a complicated situation but it does come down to society being educated about the risks."