Impaired fasting glucose

Based on the latest available measured data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2011–12 Australian Health Survey (AHS), an estimated 420,000 people aged 18 and over (3.1%) were living with Impaired Fasting Glucose (IFG) (AIHW analysis of ABS 2014).

In 2011–12:

  • the proportion of adults with IFG generally increased with age and was highest in people aged 75 and over compared with those aged 35–44 (7.5% and 2.1%, respectively).
  • men were almost twice as likely to be living with IFG than women (Figure 1).

What is impaired fasting glucose?

The initial stages of type 2 diabetes, also known as pre-diabetes, are characterised by impaired glucose regulation, including both impaired fasting glucose (IFG) and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) (WHO and IDF 2006). IFG is characterised by higher than usual levels of glucose in the blood when fasting (in the range of 6.1 to 6.9 mmol/L) but less than diabetes levels (at least 7.0 mmol/L). People who have IFG or IGT are at risk of future development of diabetes. Without intervention, approximately 1 in 3 people living with pre-diabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years (Bell et al. 2020).

Early treatment and improved management of impaired glucose regulation may help to reduce the occurrence of type 2 diabetes. Interventions such as weight reduction, healthy eating, regular physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour, stress management and smoking cessation, psychological support and appropriate pharmacotherapy can slow the progression of IFG and IGT to diabetes (Bell et al. 2020).

In the ABS 2011–12 AHS, a person who did not currently have diabetes but had an IFG result ranging from 6.1 to 6.9 mmol/L was considered to be at high risk of diabetes. The ABS 2011–12 AHS collected measured data on IFG. IGT was not measured (ABS 2013).

Figure 1: Impaired fasting glucose, persons aged 35 and over by age group and sex, 2011–12

The bar chart shows the proportion of adults living with impaired fasting glucose, by age and sex in 2011–12. A higher proportion of men (4.1%) than women (2.1%) were living with impaired fasting glucose.

Variation between population groups

In 2011–12, there were no statistically significant differences in the proportion of men and women living with IFG across geographic areas and socioeconomic areas (AIHW analysis of ABS 2014).