The number of people living with diabetes has more than doubled over the last twenty years - and that rate is even higher for Māori and Pasifika.
The newly released Global Burden of Disease Study found that between 1990 and 2013, the total number of years people lived with type-2 diabetes during that time increased by 163 percent for women, and 118 percent for men.
Recent Ministry of Health figures showed that the rate of diabetes among Māori was twice that of non-Māori while among Pasifika, that rate is closer to four times higher.
President of Diabetes New Zealand Chris Baty said obesity was a major factor in developing type-2 diabetes.
"We have to do something to avoid this," she said.
"The reality is, it could be avoided. That rests with all of us, both as a community and with us as individuals. We have to do something to try and stop this epidemic of diabetes."
"The sad part about it is, two or three decades ago, people never developed it [type-2 diabetes] until they were in their sixties or seventies.
"Now what's really disturbing is the real growth is amongst people who are in their twenties and thirties."
She said the complications that develop as a result of diabetes would impact on those people's quality of life and ultimately kill them.