Thursday 30 June 2011

Fighting diabetes

The Greens and Labour want to ruin New Zealand's very clean GST system by putting in exemptions for "healthy food"; high NZ diabetes rates are the latest excuse.

Want to do something to reduce Type II diabetes rates? Ease up on the anti-alcohol measures! Moderate alcohol consumption reduces risk of Type II diabetes substantially; heavy consumption doesn't seem to increase risk relative to non-drinking. A very brief lit review:
  • Koppes et al 2005: Meta-analysis. Moderate drinkers (up to 4.8 std drinks per day) had relative diabetes risk about 30% lower than non-drinkers; non-drinkers and heavy drinkers have same risk.
  • Ajani et al. 2000. Male doctors who drink one drink per day have a 43% reduced risk of diabetes.
  • Joosten et al 2010: "Increases in alcohol consumption over time were associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes among initially rare and light drinkers. This lower risk was evident within a 4-year period following increased alcohol intake."
  • Boggs et al 2010: Coffee (but not decaf) and alcohol reduce diabetes risk in a sample of African American women; tea does not reduce diabetes risk.
  • Baliunas et al 2009: Metastudy. Two drinks per day offers greatest relative risk reduction: a 13% reduction relative to lifetime abstainers. After six drinks per day, relative risk is 1.02: slightly above that of abstainers, but the 95% CI is [0.83-1.26].
  • Hu et al, 2001. Among a sample of nurses, alcohol consumption reduced diabetes risk. Protective effects strongly evident even among those with high BMI (>30).


  1. While they're at it, help lower obesity rates by lowering the barriers to smoking:

  2. The NBR article is a bit misleading, because they lump Labour and the Greens in together.

    It is Labour that wants to tackle the problem using changes to GST. The Greens want other approaches including healthy food in schools. See The Greens are well aware of the problems caused by exempting some items from GST.

  3. If you're right about the Greens on this, my opinion of them goes up substantially. Will have to check!

  4. I had a quick peruse at the Greens policy statements on their website. I searched for any mention of GST, but couldn't find anything in either their economic/tax policies or their food policy. I still don't approve of their stance on GE though, so they won't be getting my vote this year.

  5. "Moderate drinkers (up to 4.8 std drinks per day)"

    Ill drink to that as a working definition of moderate drinking :) will someone tell the MOH

  6. @Anon: Banning getting the occasional chocolate bar at the school cafeteria seems a bit harsh. I rather liked getting a trashy lunch at the school cafeteria once a fortnight or so.

    @Swan: That's around two pints of 5% beer; recall that a "standard drink" is only 10 grams alcohol...