How many Australians have diabetes?

All diabetes

An estimated 1.2 million (6%) Australian adults aged 18 years and over had diabetes in 2017–18, based on self-reported data, from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2017–18 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

Since 2001, the prevalence of diabetes (based on self-reported data) among Australian adults aged 18 years and over has almost doubled from 3.3%. The trend, however, has remained relatively stable since 2014–15 (ABS 2018).

Age and sex

In 2017–18, 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 (16%) 3 times as high as for 45–54 year-olds (5%) and 1.5 times as high as for 55–64 year olds (10%) (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Prevalence of self-reported diabetes, among persons aged 18 and over, by age and sex, 2017–18

The bar chart shows the increasing prevalence of diabetes in 2017–18 by age group from 1.5%25 for males and 1.3%25 for females in the 18–44 age group to 21%25 and 17%25 for males and females, respectively in the 75+ age group. The prevalence of diabetes was higher for males than females in all age groups.

Note: Based on self-reported data.

Chart: AIHW. Source: AIHW analysis of ABS 2019. (Data table)

Variation among population groups

In 2017–18, 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 (5%) and Outer regional and remote areas (7%).
  • Around twice as high in the lowest socioeconomic group (9% and 8% for men and women, respectively) as those in the highest socioeconomic group (5% and 3% for men and women, respectively).

Figure 2: Prevalence of self-reported diabetes, among persons aged 18 and over, by remoteness and socioeconomic group, 2017–18

The bar chart shows slight variations in the prevalence of diabetes in 2017–18, for both men and women by level of remoteness with 6%25 in Major cities, 5%25 in Inner regional areas and 7%25 in Outer regional/remote areas. The prevalence of diabetes increased with the level of socioeconomic disadvantage for both men and women, from 4%25 in the least disadvantaged group to 8%25 in the most disadvantaged group.

Note: Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.

Chart: AIHW. Source: AIHW analysis of ABS 2019. (Data table)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

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 (AIHW 2015).

After controlling for differences in the age structures between the populations, based on self-reported and measured results, Indigenous Australian adults were almost 4 times as likely to have diabetes as their non-Indigenous counterparts.

References:

AIHW (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare) 2015. Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and chronic kidney disease—Australian facts: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Cardiovascular, diabetes and chronic kidney disease series no. 5. Cat. no. CDK 5. Canberra: AIHW.

ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) 2018. National Health Survey: First Results, 2017–18. ABS cat. no. 4364.0.55.001. Canberra: ABS. Viewed 30 April 2019.