November is Diabetes Action Month, and local members are encouraging Wanganui people to "Act Today to Change Tomorrow", which is the theme for this year's awareness campaign.
Diabetes NZ Wanganui branch members Helen Ashton and Jennifer Clarke say a number of events are planned during November to promote awareness and understanding of diabetes.
"In the past 10 years, the number of people with diabetes has more than doubled to 257,000 and more people have pre-diabetes (glucose intolerance) so we want to bring it to everybody's notice," said Mrs Ashton.
"There will be an awareness expo at the War Memorial Centre on November 16 and we will hang a banner in Victoria Ave two weeks before the expo to remind everyone that November is action month."
She said there would be about 20 stalls related to diabetes and other conditions caused by diabetes and a number of businesses would help promote healthy eating and exercise.
There will also be armchair exercises, cooking demonstrations and a diabetes dietician will give a talk on nutrition and advice on reading food labels.
About 10 per cent of people have type 1 diabetes, which cannot be prevented and is caused by the body's inability to produce insulin and people with the condition have insulin injections.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form. For many people (but not all) it can be prevented through a healthy lifestyle.
While type 2 diabetes cannot be cured, it can be managed, and people with type 2 diabetes can and do live active, healthy lives. Symptoms of diabetes include itchy skin, excessive thirst and frequent urination, poor eyesight or blurred vision and wounds that are slow to heal.
Diabetes Wanganui, which has 73 members, celebrated its 40th year on October 17 at the Eulogy Lounge and founder member Jennifer Clarke recently received a long service award from Diabetes NZ presented by Associate Health Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga.
The former Wanganui teacher has type 1 diabetes and has lived with the condition since childhood, taking insulin injections almost all her life.
So what can people who may be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes do reduce the risks and remain healthy?
"Everything in moderation is the key, really," says Mrs Ashton. "If you fancy some chocolate it's okay to have a square but eating a whole block is not good for you."