Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition in which insulin, a hormone that is essential for converting glucose into energy, is no longer produced or not produced in sufficient amounts by the body1.
In 2014-15, 5.1% of the Australian population (1.2 million people) had some type of diabetes, an increase from 4.5% in 2011-12.
More than half (55.4%) of people with diabetes had a parent or sibling who had also been told they have diabetes.
Of all people with diabetes, 84.8% had consulted a GP in the last 12 months for their condition, 24.3% had consulted a specialist and 16.6% had consulted a diabetes educator. Proportionally, more people with diabetes had consulted a GP in the last 12 months for their condition than people with any of the other long-term health conditions published in this release (which ranged between 51.8% and 72.9%).
Around 1 in 10 (9.1%) people with diabetes who were employed or studying/at school took time off work or study/school in the last 12 months due to their diabetes.
A recommended test to determine whether a person's diabetes is being managed is the HbA1C test2. This measures the amount of glucose in the blood that binds to the haemoglobin present in red blood cells. In 2014-15, three-quarters (73.6%) of all people with diabetes had had an HbA1C test in the last 12 months.
Regular testing of blood glucose levels is also an important part of managing diabetes. Of all people with diabetes, 41.4% reported testing their blood glucose levels every day, while a further 17.6% tested their blood glucose at least once a week.
If poorly managed, diabetes can result in a range of complications, such as retinopathy (eye problems) and peripheral vascular disease (feet problems). In 2014-15, 5.3% of people with diabetes had consulted an optician/optometrist/orthoptist in the last 12 months for their diabetes. A similar proportion (6.4%) reported checking their feet every day.
People were asked about actions taken for their diabetes. Nearly two-thirds of people with diabetes were currently following a changed eating pattern or diet (64.9%). Other common actions taken in the last 2 weeks were using insulin daily (28.3%), exercising on most days (26.9%) and losing weight (20.9%).
Almost three-quarters (71.8%) of all people with diabetes reported taking some type of diabetes medication in the last 2 weeks. The most common diabetes medications taken by people with diabetes were metformin (46.3%), insulin and analogues (25.3%), and gliclazide (15.5%). In addition, 17.7% of people with diabetes reported taking anti depressants.
1. Diabetes Australia, 2017, What is diabetes?, <https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/what-is-diabetes>, Last accessed 31/01/2017.
2. Diabetes Australia, 2017, Blood Glucose Monitoring <https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/blood-glucose-monitoring>, Last accessed 06/03/2017.