How many Australians have diabetes?

All diabetes

An estimated 1.2 million Australians (4.9% of the total population) had diabetes in 2017–18, based on self-reported data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2017–18 National Health Survey. This estimate 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 does not include people with undiagnosed diabetes. The ABS 2011–12 Australian Health Survey, which included both measured and self-reported data showed that for every 4 adults with diagnosed diabetes, there was 1 who was undiagnosed.

Trends

The age-standardised prevalence rate of self-reported diabetes increased from 3.3% in 2001 to 4.4% in 2017–18. There was little change in the prevalence rate from 2014–15 to 2017–18 (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Prevalence of self-reported diabetes, by sex, 2001 to 2017–18

The chart shows a gradual increase in the prevalence of self-reported diabetes between 2001 and 2014–15 from just over 3% for both males and females to just over 5% for males and 4% for females. Among both males and females, the prevalence of self-reported diabetes remained fairly steady between 2014–15 and 2017–18.

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Age and sex

In 2017–18, the prevalence of diabetes (based on self-reported data):

  • was higher for males (5.0%) than females (3.8%)
  • increased steadily up to the 75 and over age group, with rates among those aged 65–74 more than 3 times as high as for those aged 45–54 (15.5% and 4.5%, respectively) and 1.5 times as high as those aged 55–64 (10.2%) (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Prevalence of self-reported diabetes, by age group and sex, 2017–18

The chart shows the increasing prevalence of diabetes in 2017–18 by age group from 1.0% for males and 0.9% for females in the 0–44 age group to 21% and 17% for males and females, respectively in the 75+ age group. The prevalence of diabetes was higher for males than females in all age groups from 45 years and over.

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Variations between population groups

In 2017–18, the prevalence of diabetes (based on self-reported data) was similar across remoteness areas, but varied by socioeconomic disadvantage (Figure 3). Proportions were:

  • similar between Major cities (4.3%), Inner regional (3.9%) and Outer regional and remote areas (5.3%).
  • around twice as high among those living in the lowest socioeconomic areas (6.7% and 5.8% for males and females, respectively) as in the highest socioeconomic areas (4.1% and 2.2% for males and females, respectively) (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Prevalence of self-reported diabetes, by sex, remoteness and socioeconomic areas, 2017–18

The chart shows slight variations in the prevalence of diabetes in 2017–18, for both males and females by level of remoteness with 4.3% in Major cities, 3.9% in Inner regional areas and 5.3% in Outer regional and remote areas. The prevalence of diabetes increased with the level of socioeconomic disadvantage for both males and females from 3.2% in the least disadvantaged areas up to 6.3% in the most disadvantaged areas.

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Around 7.9% of Indigenous Australians (64,100 people) had diabetes according to self-reported data from the ABS 2018–19 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (ABS 2019b). This is similar to the 7.7% reported in the 2012–13 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (ABS 2014).

After controlling for differences in the age structures between the populations, based on self-reported and measured results, Indigenous Australians were almost 3 times as likely to have diabetes as their non-Indigenous counterparts (12.6% compared with 4.3%).

References

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2003. Microdata: National Health Survey, 2001. ABS cat. no. 4324.0.55.001. Findings based on Detailed Microdata File analysis. Canberra: ABS.

ABS 2009. Microdata: National Health Survey, 2007–08. ABS cat. no. 4324.0.55.001. Findings based on Detailed Microdata File analysis. Canberra: ABS.

ABS 2013a. Australian Health Survey: biomedical results for chronic diseases, 2011–12. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.005. Canberra: ABS.

ABS 2013b. Microdata: Australian Health Survey—National Health Survey, 2011–12. ABS cat. no. 4324.0.55.001. Findings based on Detailed Microdata File analysis. Canberra: ABS.

ABS 2014. Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey: First results, Australia, 2012–13. ABS cat. no. 4727.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS.

ABS 2016. Microdata: National Health Survey, 2014–15. ABS cat. no. 4324.0.55.001. Findings based on Detailed Microdata File analysis. Canberra: ABS.

ABS 2019a. Microdata: National Health Survey, 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4324.0.55.001. Findings based on Detailed Microdata File analysis. Canberra: ABS.

ABS 2019b. National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey, 2018-19. ABS cat. no. 4715.0. Canberra: ABS.