Type 2 diabetes

How many people are living with type 2 diabetes in Australia?

Almost 1.2 million (4.5%) Australians were living with type 2 diabetes and registered with the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS) and Australasian Paediatric Endocrine Group (APEG) state-based registers in 2020. 

Variation by age and sex

In 2020, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes on the linked NDSS and APEG data increased with increasing age with only 3% aged less than 40 and almost 60% aged 65 or higher. Type 2 diabetes prevalence rates were highest for males aged 80–84 (22%) and females aged 80–84 (17%) before declining in those aged 85+ (Figure 1).

Overall, age-standardised type 2 diabetes prevalence rates were 1.3 times as high in males compared with females.

Figure 1: Prevalence of type 2 diabetes, by age and sex, 2020

The butterfly chart shows the prevalence of type 2 diabetes by age groups in 2020. Rates were highest among males and females aged 80–84 (22% and 17%).

Trends over time

The number of people living with type 2 diabetes in Australia increased almost 3-fold between 2000 and 2020, from 399,400 to 1,164,900. After adjusting for age, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes increased from 2.1% in 2000 to 4.0% in 2014. The prevalence rate has decreased slightly since 2014 to 3.8% in 2020 (Figure 2).

Refer to Limitations of estimating diabetes prevalence data for more information.

Figure 2: Prevalence of type 2 diabetes from the linked NDSS and APEG data, by sex, 2000–2020

The line chart shows the increase in the age-standardised rates of males and females living with type 2 diabetes between 2000 to 2020, from 2.3% to 4.3% for males, and from 2% to 3.3% for females.

Similar patterns were found in the National Health Survey (NHS). The age-standardised prevalence rate of type 2 diabetes increased from 3.5% in 2001 to 4.8% in 2017–18. Between 2011–12 and 2017–18, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes showed a stable pattern, with rates of 4.7% in 2011–12, 5.2% in 2014–15 and 4.8% in 2017–18  (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Prevalence of self-reported type 2 diabetes among adults 18+, by sex, 2001 to 2017–18 (National Health Survey data)

The line chart shows the increase in the age-standardised rates of males and females living with type 2 diabetes between 2001 to 2017–18, from 3.5% to 5.5% for males, and from 3.4% to 4.1% for females.

Variation between population groups

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

Among Indigenous adults in 2018–19, an estimated 10.7% (51,900 people) were living with type 2 diabetes, based on self-reported data from the ABS National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Survey (NATSIHS). There was no significant difference between the age-standardised proportion of Indigenous men and women with type 2 diabetes.

Based on estimates from the 2018–19 NATSIHS and 2017–18 NHS, after adjusting for differences in the age structure of the populations, Indigenous adults were 2.9 times as likely to be living with type 2 diabetes as non-Indigenous adults.

For more information about issues with reporting Indigenous type 2 diabetes prevalence data from the linked NDSS and APEG data refer to Using the NDSS for reporting on Indigenous Australians.

Socioeconomic area

In 2020, the age-standardised prevalence rate for type 2 diabetes on the linked NDSS and APEG data was almost twice as high among those living in the lowest socioeconomic areas as in the highest socioeconomic areas in 2020 (Figure 4).

Remoteness area

In 2020, age-standardised prevalence rates for type 2 diabetes on the linked NDSS and APEG data generally increased with increasing remoteness area and were 1.3 and 1.4 times as high in Remote and very remote areas, compared with Major Cities and Inner regional areas (Figure 4).

See Geographical variation in disease: diabetes, cardiovascular and chronic kidney disease for more information on the prevalence of type 2 diabetes by state/territory, Population Health Network and Population Health Area.

Figure 4: Prevalence of type 2 diabetes, by selected population groups and sex, 2020

The horizontal bar chart shows that male and female type 2 diabetes prevalence rates in 2020, were higher among people living in remote and very remote areas, and people living in the lowest socioeconomic areas.

How many people are newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in Australia?

Around 1.3 million people, newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, were registered on the linked NDSS and APEG data between 2000 and 2020. This was around 60,000 people each year – an average of around 166 new diagnoses a day.

There were 48,300 people newly diagnosed (incidence) with type 2 diabetes and registered on the linked NDSS and APEG data in Australia in 2020, equating to 188 diagnoses a day per 100,000 population.

Variation by age and sex

In 2020, type 2 diabetes incidence rates were highest among males and females aged 65–69 according to the linked NDSS and APEG data (552 and 389 per 100,000 population, respectively) (Figure 5).

After adjusting for the different age structures of the populations, type 2 diabetes incidence rates were 1.4 times higher among males than females, overall.

Figure 5: Incidence of type 2 diabetes, by age and sex, 2020

The butterfly chart shows the incidence rates of type 2 diabetes by age group in 2020. Rates were highest among males and females aged 65–69 (552 and 389 per 100,000 population).

Trends over time

According to the linked NDSS and APEG data, age-standardised incidence rates for type 2 diabetes have varied over time. Incidence rates peaked in 2008 at 336 per 100,000 population and have almost halved from 2008 to 2020 (172 per 100,000 population) (Figure 6). 

Note: Some caution should be used when interpreting these trends. The NDSS is estimated to capture 80–90% of all people with diagnosed diabetes in Australia (AIHW 2009). It is uncertain how many people with diagnosed diabetes are not registering with the NDSS and how these numbers may have changed over time.

Figure 6: Incidence of type 2 diabetes, by age and sex, 2000–2020

The line chart shows declines in the age-standardised incidence rates of males and females newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes between 2000 to 2020, from 322 to 202 new cases per 100,000 population for males and 262 to 143 new cases for females.

Variation between population groups

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander

There were 2,200 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, registered on the linked NDSS and APEG data in 2020, equating to 250 per 100,00 population. Incidence rates were similar between Indigenous males and females and were highest among Indigenous females aged 50–54 and Indigenous males aged 70–74 (822 and 841 per 100,000, respectively) (Figure 7).

After controlling for age, type 2 diabetes incidence rates were around 2.3 times as high among Indigenous Australians as non-Indigenous Australians (Figure 8).

Figure 7: Incidence of type 2 diabetes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, by age and sex, 2020

The butterfly chart shows the incidence of type 2 diabetes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by age group in 2020. Rates were highest among Indigenous males aged 70–74  and females aged 50–54 (841 and 822 per 100,000 population).

Socioeconomic area

In 2020, the incidence of type 2 diabetes (based on the linked NDSS and APEG data) increased with increasing levels of socioeconomic disadvantage. Rates were around 2.3 times as high among those living in the lowest socioeconomic areas as in the highest socioeconomic areas (Figure 8).

Remoteness area

In 2020, the incidence of type 2 diabetes was similar across remoteness areas based on the linked NDSS and APEG data. Incidence rates were slightly higher among those living in Inner regional and Outer regional areas (Figure 8).

Figure 8: Incidence of type 2 diabetes, by selected population groups and sex, 2020

The horizontal bar chart shows that male and female type 2 diabetes prevalence rates in 2020, were higher among Indigenous Australians, people living in outer regional areas, and people living in the lowest socioeconomic areas.