Diabetes is the largest and fastest growing health issue we face in New Zealand, according to the Ministry of Health. With more than 240,000 Kiwis diagnosed with diabetes – and World Diabetes Day on Nov 14 – learning how to support those with diabetes should be a priority for every New Zealand workplace.
Diabetes is a chronic disease where your body either can’t make insulin, or properly use the insulin it produces.
Insulin regulates the level of glucose in your blood stream and, without it doing its job, this leads persistently high blood sugar levels.
Having consistently high blood sugar levels can have a serious impact on your health, including cardiovascular disease, kidney issues, damage to eye-sight and lower legs, and skin problems. Understandably, some people with diabetes also suffer from stress and anxiety too.
The good news is that diabetes is also a condition that many people successfully manage through medication, diet and exercise, and continue to live full lives.
Type 1: This is when the body does not produce insulin, and it is not preventable. This condition is managed by regularly injecting insulin.
Type 2: This happens when the body becomes first resistant to insulin and then starts producing too little. Type 2 diabetes can often be managed by diet, exercise and sometimes medication. It’s also reversible in some situations.
Gestational diabetes: This can develop during pregnancy. Blood sugar levels typically return to normal after delivery.
People managing diabetes need to maintain schedules about when they eat or take medicine. Things like shift work can complicate this. Sit down together and make a plan to ensure they’re safe at work and can successfully self-manage. This might include:
With 1 in 5 Kiwis over the age of 15 estimated to have prediabetes and with type 2 diabetes being linked to obesity , encouraging healthy living can be one of the best ways of preventing type 2 diabetes developing. Initiatives you might consider include:
Top tip: Talk to your Southern Cross adviser about a launching a BeingWell programme for your organisation.
The more awareness others have about diabetes the easier it is for individuals to manage. Education is also important to help those with undiagnosed diabetes spot the symptoms.
Did you know more than 100,000 Kiwis are estimated to be living with undiagnosed diabetes.
Everyone with diabetes will manage it in a different way, so talk to them about it. A little understanding and consideration can go a long way to making it a normal part of the work day.
If a colleague has some of the following symptoms, but hasn’t been diagnosed with diabetes, suggest they get checked out:
For more information on diabetes in New Zealand, visit Diabetes New Zealand