Facts about diabetes in Australia.

  • Over 280 Australians develop diabetes every day.
  • More than 1.8 million Australians currently live with diabetes.
  • Approximately 500,000 people don’t yet know they have type 2 diabetes.
  • Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage.
  • Costs over $14billion per year to the Australian economy
  • Eating foods that are high GI (glycaemic index) can make controlling diabetes more difficult. Learn more about the GI and how it can be used to manage diabetes.

About Diabetes.

Diabetes mellitus, or simply diabetes, is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas is no longer able to make insulin or when the body cannot make good use of the insulin it produces.

Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas, that acts like a key to let glucose from the food we eat pass from the bloodstream into the cells in the body to produce energy. All carbohydrate foods are broken down into glucose in the blood. Insulin helps glucose get into the cells.

Not being able to produce insulin or use it effectively leads to raised glucose levels in the blood, known as hyperglycemia. Over the long-term, high glucose levels are associated with damage to the body and failure of various organs and tissues. (Source: The International Diabetes Federation)

415 million people live with diabetes worldwide, a number that is expected to rise to 642 million by 2040. Every 6 seconds someone dies from diabetes-related complications.

Type 1 diabetes

  • An autoimmune disease.
  • The pancreas doesn’t produce insulin which we need to let blood glucose into cells for energy.
  • Insulin-producing cells (beta cells) are destroyed by mistake.
  • Develops quickly requiring insulin injections for life and to survive.
  • Approximately 10% of people with diabetes have type 1.
  • Mostly occurs at a young age but can occur later in life.
  • Risk of serious complications later in life.

Find out more about type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes

  • Occurs when the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body doesn’t use it (insulin resistant).
  • Is the most common form of diabetes with 85% of people living with diabetes having type 2.
  • Develops gradually over a longer period of time, sometimes going unnoticed.
  • Stronger link to family history than type 1.
  • Lifestyle factors such as obesity and reduced activity can trigger type 2 diabetes.
  • Complications such as heart disease, kidney failure or blindness can occur.

Find out more about type 2 diabetes.


Gestational diabetes

  • Approximately 5% of pregnant women develop gestational diabetes.
  • Is a temporary form of diabetes occurring during pregnancy.
  • High blood glucose levels are detected during routine screening.
  • The body is unable to produce enough insulin necessary during pregnancy.
  • Careful management and treatment are required.
  • The condition disappears following birth.
  • Both mother and her baby are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Find out more about gestational diabetes.