New study shows undiagnosed diabetes is common among Maori

A study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal today shows that one in five Maori with diabetes or pre-diabetes are undiagnosed.

Researchers Professor David Simmons (Cambridge, England) Professor Elaine Rush (Auckland University of Technology) and Nic Crook (Lakes DHB, Rotorua), as part of the Te Wai o Rona Diabetes Prevention Strategy, invited Maori aged 28 or over to have an oral glucose tolerance test. Results showed that undiagnosed diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance and impaired fasting glucose remain common in Maori, particularly in men, in the very obese and in those with greater socioeconomic disadvantage.

Having diabetes or pre-diabetes significantly increases the risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease and kidney disease, and can be associated with problems during pregnancy. Early diagnosis is important, as intervention, such as lifestyle changes and pharmacological intervention, can significantly reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality.

There is significant opportunity to reduce morbidity and premature mortality among Maori through case-finding and intervention and the authors suggest diabetes screening and diagnostic strategies among Maori less than 50 years of age warrant greater attention.

Maori dietitian Eruera Maxted comments, “This study supports and validates what has been previously known, that as overweight increases prevalence of dysglycaemia and diabetes increases. It reinforces the need for us as Maori to continue efforts in lifestyle changes to decrease overweight through healthier eating and living active lives.”


Simmons D, Rush E, Crook N. Prevalence of undiagnosed diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, and impaired fasting glucose among Maori in Te Wai o Rona: Diabetes Prevention Strategy. New Zealand Medical Journal, 2009; 122 (1288): ISSN 1175 8716

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Media coverage

The New Zealand Herald: One in five Maori at risk of diabetes, says study

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