How many Australians have diabetes?

All diabetes

An estimated 1.2 million (6%) Australian adults aged 18 years and over had diabetes in 2014–15, based on self-reported data, from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2014–15 National Health Survey. This includes people with type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and type unknown but excludes gestational diabetes.

Information based on self-reported data only is likely to underestimate the prevalence of diabetes as it cannot include people with undiagnosed diabetes. The ABS 2011–12 Australian Health Survey, which included both measured and self-report data showed that for every 4 adults with diagnosed diabetes, there was 1 who was undiagnosed.

Trends

The prevalence of diabetes (based on self-reported data) has tripled between 1989–90 and 2014–15. The proportion of people with diabetes has increased from 1.5% to 4.7%.

Age and sex

In 2014–15, the prevalence of diabetes among adults (based on self-reported data):

  • Was higher for men (7%) than women (5%).
  • Increased rapidly up to age 75, with rates among 65–74 year-olds (17%) 3 times as high as for 45–54 year-olds (5%) and 1.4 times as high as for 55–64 year olds (12%) (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Prevalence of diabetes, among persons aged 18 and over, by age and sex, 2014–15

The vertical bar chart shows that self-reported diabetes prevalence among adults steadily increased with age in 2014–15, with rates highest among those aged 75 years and over (22%25 for men and 16%25 for women). From age 55 years, men had higher prevalence rates than women—20%25 of men aged 65–74 self-reported having diabetes compared to 14%25 of women of the same age.

Note: Based on self-reported data.

Source: AIHW analysis of ABS Microdata: National Health Survey (NHS), 2014–15 (see data).

Inequalities

In 2014–15, the prevalence of diabetes (based on self-reported data) among adults was similar by remoteness and varied by socioeconomic disadvantage (Figure 2). Proportions were:

  • Similar between Major cities (6%), Inner regional (7%) and Outer regional and remote areas (7%).
  • Around twice as high in the lowest socioeconomic group (10% and 7% for men and women, respectively) as those in the highest socioeconomic group (4% each for men and women).

Figure 2: Prevalence of diabetes, among persons aged 18 and over, by remoteness and socioeconomic group, 2014–15

The horizontal bar chart shows that in 2014–15 men had higher rates of diabetes across all remoteness areas than women. While diabetes rates were relatively similar across remoteness areas for women, for men rates were considerably higher in outer regional/remote areas compared with other remoteness areas – 8.5%25, compared to 6.6%25 in inner regional and 6.7%25 in major cities.  Diabetes prevalence increased with socioeconomic disadvantage for both males and females.

Notes 

  1. Based on self-reported data.
  2. Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.
  3. Please see data table for information on remoteness and socioeconomic group classifications.

Source: AIHW analysis of ABS Microdata: National Health Survey (NHS) 2014–15 (see data).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

Around 1 in 8 (13%) Indigenous Australian adults (46,200 people) had diabetes, based on self-report and measured data from the ABS 2012–13 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Measures Survey. Diabetes was more common in Indigenous females than males (25,900 and 20,300, respectively; or 56% and 44%).

Based on self-reported and measured results, Indigenous Australian adults were almost 4 times as likely to have diabetes as their non-Indigenous counterparts (18% compared with 5%, after adjusting for differences in the age structures between the populations).