Latest release

Diabetes

Contains key statistics and information about diabetes and its prevalence in Australia

Reference period
2020-21 financial year
Released
21/03/2022
Next release 17/06/2022

Key statistics

  • One in twenty Australians had diabetes (5.3% or 1.3 million people)
  • Males and females had similar rates of diabetes (5.7% and 4.9%)
  • The most common type of diabetes was Type 2 diabetes (4.5%)

The National Health Survey 2020-21 was collected online during the COVID-19 pandemic and is a break in time series. Data should be used for point-in-time analysis only and can’t be compared to previous years. See Methodology for more information.

Diabetes is a chronic condition where the body cannot produce enough insulin, a hormone essential for converting glucose into energy. If poorly managed, diabetes can lead to additional health complications, such as heart attack, stroke, and limb amputation[1].

In 2020, diabetes was ranked seventh in the leading causes of death in Australia with 5,148 deaths[2]. In 2018, Type 2 diabetes was the twelfth leading contributor (2.3%) to Australia’s total disease burden (fatal and non-fatal)[3].

Diabetes prevalence

One in twenty (5.3%) people had diabetes in 2020-21.

  • Rates were similar for males and females (5.7% and 4.9%)
  • The rate of diabetes increased with age from 10.3% for people aged 55-64 years to 14.9% for people aged 65-74 years
  • Almost one in five (19.2%) people over 75 years had diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes was the most common type of diabetes (85.5%), followed by Type 1 diabetes (11.0%) and type not known by person reporting (4.1%). (This analysis excludes gestational diabetes).

Characteristics of people with diabetes

In 2020-21, people:

  • Born overseas were more likely than those born in Australia to have diabetes (7.0% compared to 4.7%)
  • Living in areas of most disadvantage were more likely than those living in areas of least disadvantage to have diabetes (6.3% compared to 4.0%)
  • With disability were more likely than those without disability to have diabetes (10.5% compared to 3.3%).

Management

Treatment of diabetes aims to prevent complications by controlling blood glucose levels and helping insulin to work more effectively[4]. More than three quarters (76.1%) of people with diabetes took one or more actions to manage their condition:

  • One in five (22.3%) took insulin daily
  • More than six in ten (63.7%) changed their eating pattern or diet
  • Three in ten (31.9%) exercised most days
  • One in ten (10.9%) were not taking current action to manage their diabetes.

Additionally, seven in ten (69.9%) had their feet checked at least once a year and three in ten (30.4%) checked their glucose levels daily.

Additional survey notes

This analysis refers to people who reported having ever been told by a doctor or nurse that they had diabetes and excludes gestational diabetes. People who considered their condition not to be current or long term are included in this analysis. This analysis refers only to people with Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and type unknown.

Data downloads

Data files

Footnotes

  1. Diabetes Australia, ‘What is diabetes?’, https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/about-diabetes/what-is-diabetes/; accessed 16/02/2022.
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, ‘Causes of Death, Australia’, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/causes-death/causes-death-australia/2020; accessed 01/02/2022.
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, ‘Australian Burden of Disease Study’, https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/5ef18dc9-414f-4899-bb35-08e239417694/aihw-bod-29.pdf.aspx?inline=true; accessed 08/03/2021.
  4. Diabetes Australia, ‘Managing type 2 diabetes’, https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/living-with-diabetes/managing-your-diabetes/managing-type-2/; accessed 16/02/2022.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4364.0.00.006. 

Media release

See National Health Survey 2020-21 Media release for more information.