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“You can’t eat that … you have diabetes!”

News Item

posted by Research Admin 1 on 7 March 2019



Heather Verry, CEO of Diabetes New Zealand, email.

Lack of understanding about diabetes could mean the difference between life and death for some.

Will you help us get the crucial message about Type 1 & 2 diabetes out to more New Zealanders before it costs lives?

Ricky Winikerei smiles patiently … and once again tries to explain to a well-meaning person that managing his Type 1 diabetes has NOTHING to do with not eating sugar.

It’s been just over 2 years since Ricky was diagnosed with his Type 1 diabetes as an adult – and stigma was a major obstacle in getting the support he needed for this life-threatening condition.

When it was assumed that, as a Maori man with diabetes in the family, it must be Type 2 diabetes he had, he was sent home from hospital without receiving life-saving insulin. Even on subsequent visits to hospital, with his Type 1 condition now clearly stated on his file, he feels he was ‘pigeon-holed’ and treated with presumption and perhaps a little bit of prejudice.

"It really got to me, in fact, kinda annoyed me … there’s a stigma, I think, around being Maori so therefore it must be Type 2 that I have. Learning a bit more about both types of diabetes … it would go a long way.” 
Ricky Winikerei


We thought the key messages about diabetes were getting through, but it seems that we still have a long way to go!

In this autumn issue of Diabetes Wellness magazine, we have published the findings of a recent survey into the real-life experience of Kiwis living with both T1 and T2 diabetes … and the results led to some truly disappointing reading.

In a shockingly high number of cases, we found that survey respondents reported that they had been blamed, judged or treated differently because they have diabetes.

For many of you who are already living with diabetes, either personally or looking after someone who has it, you have possibly even come across some of these attitudes yourselves … and its high time things changed!

Mis-information and the negative stigma that surround diabetes almost cost Ricky his life. We need to act now to ensure that these attitudes and prejudice don’t cause any more damage … or cost any more Kiwi lives.

We need your help to change wrong ideas and unhelpful attitudes … and clearly, this survey has showed us that this is now an urgent task.

Will you give today to ensure that more New Zealanders receive the true facts about diabetes?

I look forward to receiving your responses. Together, we can change the script around diabetes and make life better for ALL those living with it.

Yours Encouragingly,

Heather Verry, CEO of Diabetes New Zealand

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