Diabetes affects the health of many Australians. The disease may cause a range of complications that lead to disabilities, reduced quality of life and shortened life expectancy. As well as the personal health costs, the disease inflicts a large public health burden.

It is estimated that around a million Australians (7.5% of Australians aged 25 years or over) have diabetes and the number is expected to increase over the coming decades. Rates of Type 2 diabetes in some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities may be among the highest in the world.

Factors such as ageing and genetic predisposition increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, which is the most common form of diabetes. However, prevention of Type 2 diabetes is possible, as lifestyle factors, such as obesity and physical inactivity, contribute to the development of the disease.

Diabetes: Australian facts 2002 is the first report by the National Centre for Monitoring Diabetes to present available data across the spectrum of the disease: its levels in the population, the factors that contribute to it, and treatment and preventive programs. Importantly, the information presented aims to represent the challenges posed to the health system by the growing diabetes epidemic. It informs the interested public, academics, health professionals and policy makers about:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes, and associated health burden
  • risk factors for the disease and its complications
  • complications of diabetes; and
  • management and care.