4820.0.55.001 - Diabetes in Australia: A Snapshot, 2007-08  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 16/09/2011   
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The prevalence of diabetes varies according to age, individual health, genetic make-up, ethnicity, sex, socio-economic conditions and the presence or absence of lifestyle risk factors. This section examines the age, sex and socio-economic characteristics of persons with diabetes. Lifestyle behaviours are examined in the next section. This analysis is based on a person's current circumstances and behaviours, which may not reflect their pre-diagnosis characteristics.


In 2007–08, a higher proportion of men had diabetes than women (5% and 3% respectively). The rate of diabetes for men increased markedly around the age of 45 years, peaking at 19% for men aged 65 to 74 years. While rates for women did not rise as steeply as those of men, they also showed an increase around the age of 45 years. The rate of diabetes for women was highest for those aged 75 years and over (13%). Studies show insulin resistance increases and glucose tolerance declines with age, which may be reflected in the distribution of rates in Graph 2, below [6,7].

Graph 2 - Proportion of people with diabetes, by Age and Sex


Social and economic disadvantage are associated with poorer health outcomes, premature mortality, lower life expectancy and increased risk of disease [8]. Socio-economic conditions can influence a person's health through the resources a person has available to draw on in times of need, as well as having implications for the effectiveness of chronic disease prevention measures. The International Diabetes Fund (IDF) notes that the major burden of diabetes is borne by low and middle-income countries, and disproportionately affects lower socio-economic groups, disadvantaged people and minorities in richer countries [5].

After adjusting for age, Australians living in areas of most disadvantage were more than twice as likely to have diabetes (5%) as those living in the least disadvantaged areas (2%).