4364.0.55.005 - Australian Health Survey: Biomedical Results for Chronic Diseases, 2011-12  
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Contents >> Diabetes >> Diabetes prevalence



DIABETES PREVALENCE

Diabetes prevalence was derived using a combination of blood test results and self-reported information on diabetes diagnosis and medication use. See the Measuring diabetes - definitions section for a detailed description.

    Data source and definitions

    Fasting plasma glucose is the current standard test for diabetes in Australia. The information on diabetes in the following sections is based on fasting plasma glucose results only. Information on diabetes prevalence using glycated haemoglobin (commonly referred to as HbA1c) test results is shown in Tables 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 12 and 15 on the Downloads page of this publication.

    In order to get an accurate reading for the fasting plasma glucose test, people were required to fast for 8 hours or more beforehand. The results presented here refer only to those people who did fast (approximately 79% of adults who participated in the National Health Measures Survey (NHMS)).

In 2011–12, 5.1% of Australians aged 18 years and over had diabetes. This comprised 4.2% with known diabetes and 0.9% with diabetes newly diagnosed from their test results. This indicates that there was approximately one newly diagnosed case of diabetes for every four diagnosed cases. A further 3.1% of adults had impaired fasting plasma glucose results, which indicates that they were at high risk of diabetes. This means that there were an extra three people at high risk of diabetes for every four people who had been diagnosed.

There was an additional 1% of people aged 18 years and over who did not have abnormal fasting plasma glucose test results and who were not taking diabetes medication, but self-reported having ever been told by a doctor or nurse that they had diabetes. This group was classified as not having diabetes.

Diabetes was more common for men than women in 2011–12 (6.3% compared with 3.9%). This was the case for both known diabetes (4.9% compared with 3.4%) and newly diagnosed diabetes (1.4% compared with 0.4%).


Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion with diabetes, 2011-12
Overall, the prevalence of diabetes increased with age, with people aged 65–74 years having the highest rate (15.0%). Similarly, people aged between 55 and 74 years had the highest rates of newly diagnosed diabetes (2.3%). The proportion of people at high risk of diabetes also increased steadily with age, with the most 'high risk' group being those aged 75 years and over (7.5%).

One of the main risk factors for developing diabetes is being overweight or obese.1 Excess body weight can interfere with the body's production of, and resistance to, insulin.2 In 2011–12, people who were obese had much higher rates of diabetes (11.2%) than those who were overweight (4.1%) or normal weight or underweight (1.6%). A similar pattern was also evident for those at high risk of diabetes, with 5.8% of obese people being at high risk of diabetes compared with 0.9% of those of normal weight or underweight.

People with a family history of diabetes were also more likely to have the disease. The NHMS showed that over half of all people with diabetes (54.4%) and 39.9% of those at high risk of diabetes had a close family member who had the condition.

People with diabetes were more likely than those without diabetes to have signs of other chronic conditions. This was particularly the case with kidney disease, of which diabetes is a major cause.3 In 2011–12, 22.5% of people with diabetes had albuminuria, an early indicator of kidney disease, compared with 6.7% of those without diabetes. A further 12.8% had abnormal eGFR results, which measure how well the kidneys filter waste from the bloodstream, compared with 3.1% of those without diabetes. People at high risk of diabetes were also more likely than those without diabetes to have abnormal eGFR (7.2% compared with 3.1%).

Diabetes is also a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.1 Diabetes increases the risk of developing atherosclerosis, which is the build up of fatty deposits in the blood vessels.4 This was reflected in the NHMS results, where people with diabetes were more than twice as likely as those without diabetes to have abnormal levels of HDL 'good' cholesterol (48.6% compared with 21.7%) and high levels of triglycerides (31.5% compared with 12.5%). People who were at high risk of diabetes were also more likely than those without diabetes to have abnormal HDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.


Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion with diabetes by selected chronic disease biomarkers, 2011-12

More information on diabetes prevalence is presented in Tables 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 11 and 15 on the Downloads page of this publication.
ENDNOTES

1 Baker IDI Heart & Diabetes Institute, The Australian Diabetes Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab), 2005<http://www.bakeridi.edu.au/Assets/Files/AUSDIAB_Report_2005.pdf>, Last accessed 24/06/2013. Back to top
2 Kahn, B.B & Flier, J.S., 2000, 'Obesity and insulin resistance'. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, <http://www.jci.org/articles/view/10842>, Last accessed 24/06/2013. Back to top
3 Kidney Health Australia, Jun 2013, Fast Facts on CKD in Australia <http://www.kidney.org.au/KidneyDisease/FastFactsonCKD/tabid/589/Default.aspx>, Last accessed 24/06/2013. Back to top
4 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2012, Australia's Health <http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=10737422172>, Last accessed 24/06/2013. Back to top

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