Deaths from diabetes

Diabetes contributed in over 17,000 deaths in 2017 (11% of all deaths) according to AIHW analysis of the National Mortality Database. Diabetes was the underlying cause of death in around 4,800 deaths (28% of diabetes deaths). It was an associated cause of death in a further 12,200 deaths (72% of diabetes deaths).

Diabetes is far more likely to be listed as an associated cause of death. This is because it is often not diabetes itself that leads directly to death but one of its complications that will be listed as the underlying cause of death on the death certificate. When diabetes was examined as an associated cause of death, the conditions most commonly listed as the underlying cause of death were cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke.

Where diabetes was listed as the underlying and/or associated cause of death:

  • 5% were due to type 1 diabetes (800 deaths)
  • 56% were due to type 2 diabetes (9,500 deaths)
  • 39% were due to other diabetes (6,700 deaths).

Trends

Diabetes death rates have remained relatively stable over the last two to three decades, both where diabetes is the underlying cause of death and where it is the underlying and/or associated cause of death:

  • On average, diabetes was the underlying cause of death in around 3,300 deaths per year between 1985 and 2017, equating to death rates of 17–22 deaths per 100,000 population for males and 13–15 per 100,000 for females (see data).
  • On average, diabetes was the underlying and/or associated cause of death in around 13,100 deaths per year between 1997 and 2017, equating to death rates of 67–78 per 100,000 for males and 41–49 per 100,000 for females (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Trends in diabetes deaths (underlying and/or associated cause), by sex, 1997–2017

The line chart shows that diabetes death (underlying and/or associated cause) rates have remained relatively stable from 1997 to 2017 for both males and females (67–78 per 100,000 males and 41–49 per 100,000 females).

Note: Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.

Chart: AIHW. Source: AIHW analysis of the National Mortality Database. (Data table)

Age and sex

In 2017, diabetes death rates (as the underlying and/or associated cause):

  • Were 1.6 times as high for males as females (71 and 43 per 100,000 population, respectively). Age-specific rates for males were higher than females across all age groups (Figure 2).
  • Increased with age, with rates around 3 times as high in those aged 85 and over (1,500 and 1,100 per 100,000 for males and females) compared with those 75–84 years (588 and 359 per 100,000 for males and females) (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Diabetes deaths (underlying and/or associated cause), by age and sex, 2017

The bar chart shows that diabetes death (underlying and/or associated cause) rates increased with age and peaked in the 85 and over age group (1,500 and 1,100 per 100,000 for males and females). Diabetes death rates for males were higher than females across all age group.

Chart: AIHW. Source: AIHW analysis of the National Mortality Database. (Data table)

Variation among population groups

Diabetes death rates (as the underlying and/or associated cause) increased with remoteness and socioeconomic disadvantage:

The proportions were:

  • 2 times as high in Remote and very remote areas compared with Major cities (101 compared with 51 per 100,000 population in 2017). The gap in these death rates was higher for females than males—2.3 times as high in Remote and very remote areas than in Major cities for females (92 compared with 40 per 100,000) and 1.7 times as high for males (110 compared with 65 per 100,000) (Figure 3).
  • More than twice as high in the lowest socioeconomic group compared with the highest group (80 compared with 33 per 100,000 in 2017). This gap was similar for males and females (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Diabetes deaths (underlying and/or associated cause), by selected population characteristics, 2017

The bar chart shows that diabetes death (underlying and/or associated cause) by remoteness area and socioeconomic group in 2017. Diabetes death rates was higher in Remote and Very remote areas compared with Major cities for females (92 compared with 40 per 100,000 females) and males (110 compared with 65 per 100,000 males). Diabetes death rates was higher in the lowest socioeconomic group compared with the highest group for females (64 compared with 25 per 100,000 females) and males (99 compared with 43 per 100,000 males).

Note: Age-standardised to the 2001 Australian Standard Population.

Chart: AIHW. Source: AIHW analysis of the National Mortality Database. (Data table)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in 2017, there were 81 deaths per 100,000 population from diabetes (as the underlying or associated cause). The death rate was higher among Indigenous females than Indigenous males (83 compared with 80 per 100,000 population). This includes people residing in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and Northern Territory only.

After adjusting for differences in the age structure of the populations:

  • The rate was almost 4 times as high among Indigenous Australians compared with non-Indigenous Australians. This gap in the death rates was higher for females than males—5 times as high for Indigenous females and 3 times as high for Indigenous males.