Diabetes in Australia

An estimated 280 Australians develop diabetes every day. The 2005 Australian AusDiab Follow-up Study (Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study) showed that 1.7 million Australians have diabetes but that up to half of the cases of type 2 diabetes remain undiagnosed. By 2031 it is estimated that 3.3 million Australians will have type 2 diabetes (Vos et al., 2004).

The total financial cost of type 2 diabetes is estimated at $10.3 billion. Of this, carer costs were estimated as $4.4 billion, productivity losses were $4.1 billion, health system costs were $1.1 billion and $1.1 billion was due to obesity.

A reduction in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes will not only result in cost savings in the health budget, but increased participation and productivity in the workforce and, most importantly, better health outcomes and quality of life for Australians.

There is no doubt diabetes is a serious health crisis but it’s not all bad news. Up to 58% of cases of type 2 can be prevented and we know that good blood glucose control and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can significantly improve the complications associated with diabetes.

Fast Facts

  • 280 Australians develop diabetes every day
  • Over 100,000 Australians have developed diabetes in the past year.
  • Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia
  • Almost 1.1 million Australians currently have diagnosed diabetes. This includes:

    120,000 people with type 1 diabetes
    956,000 people with type 2 diabetes
    23,600 women with gestational diabetes
  • For every person diagnosed with diabetes there is usually a family member or carer who also ‘lives with diabetes’ every day in a support role. This means that an estimated 2.2 million Australians are affected by diabetes every day.
  • The total number of Australians with diabetes and pre-diabetes is estimated at 3.2 million
  • Indigenous Australians are 3 times more likely to have type 2 diabetes compared with non-Indigenous Australians
  • At least 2 million Australians have pre-diabetes and are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Up to 58% of cases of type 2 diabetes can be prevented in the high risk (pre-diabetes) population.

Diabetes: the silent pandemic and its impact on Australia

Diabetes Australia welcomes the publication of this comprehensive and up to date briefing on diabetes and its impact in Australia. There are now approximately 1.1 million Australians living with diabetes and around 100,000 new diagnoses each year.

There is an urgent and growing need to promote the issues surrounding this out-of-control pandemic. We need to focus the minds of the general public, of practitioners and researchers, of the media and of politicians, bureaucrats and policy makers on diabetes and related chronic diseases. There is also an urgent need for increased understanding of the economic, and societal seriousness of diabetes and its complications, and of the escalating costs to individuals, families, workplaces, society and governments.

We need sustained, nationally consistent programs to prevent, detect and manage diabetes in Australia. Too many plans and strategies have been designed and not properly implemented or evaluated. The opportunity cost of doing too little to stem this pandemic is apparent to many, but not, it would seem, to those who need to take hard and firm policy decisions to create healthier environments in schools, homes, hospitals and workplaces. We also need to ensure funding for quality treatment is available and accessible to all to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes and its complications. Click here to see the full report.

Sources:
Diabetes Atlas, sixth edition, International Diabetes Federation, 2013
Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease: Time to Act, International Diabetes Federation, 2001
AusDiab Report, 2006
The Economic Costs of Obesity, 2006
World Health Organisation Diabetes Uni
NDSS June 2012

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