Diabetes mellitus is the sixth leading cause of death in Australia, and contributes to significant illness and disability. In 1996 diabetes mellitus was the seventh leading cause of burden of disease in Australia (AIHW 2000a). People with diabetes have reduced life expectancy and are more likely than people without diabetes to experience major health complications involving the eyes, kidneys, nerves and arteries (McCarthy et al. 1996). Population groups at particular risk of diabetes are older people, Indigenous people and some sections of the overseas-born population.
In the 1995 National Health Survey, 2.4% of Australians (430,700) reported that they had been diagnosed with diabetes mellitus at some time during their lives (table 9.21). In contrast, diabetes was reported by 7% of Indigenous adults aged 20-44 years, 24% of those aged 45-54 years and 17% of those 55 years and over. Indigenous people in non-remote areas were 7-8 times more likely to report diabetes than non-Indigenous people, in both the 25-44 and 45-54 year age groups, and were twice as likely in the age group 55 years and over.
The three major types of diabetes mellitus are Type 1 diabetes which is marked by a complete lack of insulin, Type 2 diabetes which is marked by reduced levels of insulin, or the inability of the body to use insulin properly, and Gestational diabetes which occurs during pregnancy in about 4-6% of females not previously diagnosed with diabetes (AIHW 2000a).
In 1999, diabetes mellitus was the underlying cause of death in 2,947 deaths, 2.3% of all deaths. Of these, 1,485 deaths were males and 1,462 females. The age-standardised diabetes death rate for persons was 14 per 100,000 persons (16 for males and 11 for females per 100,000 persons).
In 1999, the National Diabetes Register was established at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, as part of the National Diabetes Strategy. The register collects information about people who have been diagnosed with insulin-treated diabetes since January 1999. Major objectives of the register are to assist researchers in epidemiological studies of the causes, complications and prevention of diabetes (AIHW 2000a).
9.21 PEOPLE WITH DIABETES(a), By Type and Sex - 1995
|Type of diabetes |
|Non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus - Type 2 |
|Insulin dependent diabetes mellitus - Type 1 |
|Gestational diabetes mellitus |
|Diabetes type unknown |
|Total diabetes |
|(a) Based upon people who reported a diabetes diagnosis at any time during their lives. |
Source: National Health Survey: Diabetes, Australia, 1995 (4371.0).