Type 2 diabetes

An estimated 1 million Australian adults (5%) had type 2 diabetes in 2017–18, according to self-reported data from the ABS 2017–18 National Health Survey. Proportions were:

  • Slightly higher for men than women (6% and 4%). Age-specific rates for males were higher than females from age 45 years onwards (Figure 1).
  • Relatively similar across Major cities (5%), Inner regional (4%) and Outer regional and Remote areas (6%).
  • Around twice as high in the lowest socioeconomic group (7%) compared with the highest socioeconomic group (3%).

Information based on self-reported data only is likely to underestimate the prevalence of type 2 diabetes as many cases remain unreported, due to survey participants either not knowing or accurately reporting their diabetes status. For further information about self-reported data limitations, see self-report—glossary.

Figure 1: Prevalence of self-reported type 2 diabetes, among persons aged 18 and over, by age and sex, 2017–18

The bar chart shows the prevalence of type 2 diabetes increased rapidly from the 18–44 to 75+ from less than 1%25 for both sexes to 18.5%25 for men and 15.1%25 for women. The rates in the 75+ age group were 3 times that of the 45–54 age group. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes increased more rapidly for men than women from the 45–54 age group. Prevalence for men was 1.6 and 1.2 times higher for men than women in the 65–74 and 75+ age groups, respectively.

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

Information on insulin use among people with type 2 diabetes is available from the National (insulin-treated) Diabetes Register (NDR). Around 17,400 people with type 2 diabetes began insulin treatment in 2017, equating to around 4,100 cases per 100,000 population. According to the NDR:

  • Incidence rates for insulin-treated type 2 diabetes were 1.5 times as high in females as males (5,100 compared with 3,300 per 100,000, respectively).
  • Almost all cases of insulin-treated type 2 diabetes (92%) occurred among those aged 40 years and over.

Note, as the NDR may underestimate the number of Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander registrants with diabetes for several reasons, the incidence rates of insulin-treated type 2 diabetes for Indigenous registrants have been excluded from this report.