Prevalence of Diabetes in Australia

According to the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS), an Australian Government initiative providing assistance to those affected by the disease, 1.2 million Australians (or 5% of the population) were registered as having some form of diabetes as of March 2016.

An additional 500,000 Australians are estimated to be living with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes, bringing the number of Australians with diabetes to around 1.7 million.

In fact, Diabetes Australia states that diabetes is the biggest challenge confronting Australia’s health system with the annual cost impact estimated at $14.6 billion.

Diabetes on the rise in Australia

It is estimated that each day 280 Australians, or one person every five minutes, develops diabetes.

The 2014-15 National Health Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed that the number of Australians with diabetes continues to increase annually with 4.5% of the population having diabetes in 2011-12, rising to 5.1% in 2014-15 (1.2 million Australians).

More specifically, the prevalence of the two major types of diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate. According to the National Health Survey, in 2014-15:

  • One million people had Type 2 diabetes, which represents a 20% increase in from 2011-12
  • Almost 115,000 people had Type 1 diabetes, a 40% increase from 2011-12

Who is most at risk of diabetes?

The risk for developing Type 2 diabetes is higher in people who are overweight or obese. In 2014-15, obese adults had the highest rate of Type 2 diabetes (11.6%), when compared to overweight adults (4.9%), and adults who were of a normal weight (1.9%).

Almost one in five (18.4%) of those aged 75 years and over reportedly had some form of diabetes in 2014-15.

According to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, more than half of cases of Type 1 diabetes arise in childhood or adolescence.

What can be done to prevent diabetes?

Through effective management of diet and lifestyle, individuals diagnosed with pre-diabetes, and those at risk, can delay or even prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

For this reason, it’s critical that individuals at risk of developing diabetes seek assistance and start making positive lifestyle changes now to help reduce the risk of life-threatening complications in the long-term.

While both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes do not have a known cure, individuals should seek assistance from their health care practitioner to identify best ways to manage the condition and ultimately help to live long and healthy lives.

How is Australia responding to rising rates of diabetes?

To raise awareness and to slow the increasing incidence of diabetes in Australia, organisations across the country are funding research on prevention and management of the condition, and provide support to those living with, or at risk of developing diabetes.

As a nation, Australians need to take action and rethink their daily lifestyle choices. Through eating healthily, managing weight, and physical activity, many cases of Type 2 diabetes can be prevented.


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Woman working out Australian Diabetes statistics
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