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Fast food gets grilling at diabetes seminar

Last updated 05:00 13/09/2012



Calls for strict food regulations - such as banning takeaway shops near schools - have emerged as evidence shows children are getting fatter and developing diabetes earlier.

Sedentary lifestyles were a contributing factor, but what people ate played a big part, Gabrielle Jenkin, of Otago University's public health department, told the Diabetes Nurse Specialist Symposium in Wellington yesterday.

Labelling would help control "manipulated" food that was higher in fat, salt and sugar to make it more palatable.

Schools and councils could also play a bigger role by reducing the amount of high-energy low-nutrient food at tuck shops, cafes and vending machines. They should also make healthy options more affordable, Dr Jenkin said.

Fast-food-free zones around schools could combat pupils buying pies and fizzy at lunchtime, she said.

Alarming statistics were presented at the symposium in Wellington, showing more and more young people were classed as overweight and obese, putting then at risk of developing type-2 diabetes.


People who cannot make insulin are classed as type-1 diabetics. Those with type 2 make insulin, but the production is sluggish or their body is resistant to it.

Wellington diabetes nurse specialist Kirsty Newton told the symposium it was not until the mid-1990s that type-2 diabetes began to emerge in children and teenagers.

"Very little" was being done to prevent diabetes - even health professionals were avoiding tackling it and passing the buck to colleagues, Capital & Coast District Health Board diabetes nurse specialist Lorna Bingham said.

A GP had told her that school nurses were responsible for prevention, but a school nurse said they had plenty of other serious health issues to combat in the short time they had at schools.

The recently published Health Ministry Food and Nutrition Guidelines for Healthy Children and Young People found 8 per cent of children between 2 and 14 were obese and 21 per cent were overweight; 14 per cent of people aged 15 to 24 were obese and 24 per cent overweight.

"Obesity in childhood is not a benign condition, it has huge health and social implications," Ms Bingham said.

In 1996, 1.8 per cent of adolescents had type-2 diabetes in Auckland; in 2002 the figure had risen to 11 per cent.


Nurses are fighting an uphill battle with a teenage diabetic who smokes, eats takeaways daily, and doesn't take her medication.

The unnamed girl was diagnosed by chance with type 2 diabetes, which is closely linked to obesity, at the age of 16. At 72kg, she was considered overweight, but not obese.

Diabetes nurse specialists have advised her to ditch fizzy drinks and eat takeaways only once a week. They also suggested she eat breakfast.

Her school nurse is attempting to help by getting her to see a dietitian. The diabetes nurses are struggling to educate her family, who are unhappy about her taking insulin because they see it as a last-ditch effort before death.

This case study highlights the barriers to managing diabetes and was presented at the Diabetes Nurse Specialist Symposium yesterday.

Contact Bronwyn Torrie
Health reporter
Twitter: @brontorrie

- The Dominion Post

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RexN   #7   09:06 am Sep 14 2012

"People who cannot make insulin are classed as type-1 diabetics. Those with type 2 make insulin, but the production is sluggish or their body is resistant to it."

It's good to see this distinction in the media although I would have liked to have seen it spelt out that, while there is still much debate about the cause of type one diabetes, it is accepted that our current knowledge on the subject stops type one diabetes from being preventable.

I welcome stories that instill some understanding of diabetes in the public and the importance of healthy living to prevent the onset of type two diabetes but think it important that people are also aware that type one diabetes onset is, currently, unpreventable.

Helen #4

Sadly, human beings are hard wired to enjoy fatty/sugary food and food producers A) know this and B) put their profits ahead of public good. There is no way beyond regulation to steer food manufacturers to produce healthier product.

Ian McKinnon   #6   06:38 am Sep 14 2012

But the children are living in poverty, how can they afford all this evil fast food. Are the parents in the pub playing the pokies, drinking, and backing horses with taxpayers' hard-earned benefits, claiming to being too busy to provide decent food?

junkie   #5   08:33 pm Sep 13 2012

You need to allow the kids to play in the great outdoors and do physical things. Obviously the odd broken bone from the nerd with no coordination who takes a punt at it may cost less than obesity.

Additionally I saw a hugely fat guy feeding his kids some takeaway. I wanted to tell him enough's enough.

Surely if I were a kid of a fat person by about age 5 I would have heard enough from opinionated people about how it is bad to be fat that I would have started my own extreme dieting measures.

I think it is wrong to feed your kids rubbish.

The parents obviously can't resist their own desires to eat junk.

I think they need to start viewing food differently.

Helen   #4   06:49 pm Sep 13 2012

If diabetes is such a problem in NZ then why is sugar added to everything?? I mean - you cant even buy a cooked chicken that hasn't been coated and injected with the stuff. I went to Logan Browns for dinner once, and they had to cook a Fillet Steak especially because the seasoning contained Sugar. On a fillet steak!

Trying to eat a Sugar Free Diet in NZ in next to impossible. Maybe the symposium could look at ways to get basic foob producers to stop adding sugar to everything in sight.

Sarah   #3   12:11 pm Sep 13 2012

People with diabetes, actually EVERYONE. Should be eating a high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet and cutting out eating ALL grains 90% of the time. If they eat like this long term they will not crave grain based food, carbs or sugar, they will not go on to develop t2 diabetes and they will most definitely have a better quality of life.

doug   #2   11:55 am Sep 13 2012

perhaps if people were more aware of the effects at a young age, they could make more informed decisions? why dont they teach nutrition as a mandatory subject at schools instead of traditional, less relevant subjects?

Pete James   #1   via mobile 10:29 am Sep 13 2012

Fast food was never ment to be eaten every day! Like all life's pleasures it should be enjoyed with moderation! Blaming fast food is a cop out! Parents need to step up and set the example and There's nothing more to it. In saying that, what's the bet in the next 5 years they will start taxing fast food?

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