Australia has one of the highest rates of type 1 in the world

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when there is too much glucose in the blood because the body is not producing insulin or not using insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone needed for glucose to enter the cells and be converted to energy.

Type 1 diabetes

  • occurs when the pancreas no longer produces the insulin needed
  • occurs when the pancreas is not producing enough insulin and the insulin is not working effectively
  • represents 10 to 15% of all cases of diabetes
  • is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in developed nations
  • there are currently no known risk factors
  • is not caused by lifestyle factors
  • Type 1 diabetes is increasing at about 3% a year 2
  • Type 1 requires insulin therapy


Usually in childhood or young adulthood, although it can occur at any age.


Usually abrupt onset. Symptoms can include excessive thirst and urination, unexplained weight loss, weakness and fatigue, irritability.


Lifelong daily insulin injections or use of an insulin pump, regular blood glucose level tests, healthy eating and regular physical activity.


Most cases develop amongst children, teenagers and young adults


Diabetes is the sixth-highest cause of death by disease in Australia.2


People with diabetes are twice as likely to be have high blood pressure and also are more likely to have elevated blood fats e.g. cholesterol, triglycerides.3


The Human Burden
  • Diabetes is Australia’s fastest-growing chronic disease 2
  • An estimated 2.45 million Australians have pre-diabetes 2,6
  • One person is diagnosed every 5 minutes 7
  • About 1,160,000 Australians are officially diagnosed with diabetes
  • Diabetes prevalence has increased approximately 7.2% per annum since the year 2000. Based on this, by 2018, Diabetes NSW expects the number of people with diagnosable diabetes to total approximately 2.65 million 7
  • The total number of people with diabetes and pre-diabetes at present is 3.61 million 3,6,7
Diabetes and kidney disease

Diabetes is the fastest-growing cause of kidney failure. It is the leading cause of end stage renal disease (ESRD). About 30% of people with diabetes will develop kidney disease 5.

Diabetes and lower limbs

Neuropathy or peripheral nerve disease and blood vessel damage may lead to leg ulcers and serious foot problems from which limb amputation may result.

They are two times more likely to have cardiovascular disease, e.g. heart disease and stroke 3


One in four Australian adults have diabetes or impaired glucose metabolism 2

People with diabetes in 2005:
  • 15% were hospitalised with coronary heart disease 2
  • 38,700 Australians were hospitalised for eye complications caused by diabetes 2
  • 90% undergoing a lower limb amputation had a history of ulceration 2
  • 3,400 had amputations (65 amputations per week) 2
  • 11% of people with diabetes have had a heart attack 2
  • 23% died from kidney disease 2
The cost burden
  • Type 1 diabetes costs Australia $570 million a year 8, 9, 10
  • The cost of type 1 diabetes to the community for a person with no complications is $3,468 a year and for a person with complications, the cost is $16,698 8, 9, 10
  • The 4% of people who have diagnosed diabetes account for 12% of the total health costs in Australia 8, 9, 10
Diabetes and heart disease/stroke

Diabetes is also often associated with high blood pressure and high blood fats (cholesterol and triglycerides) and causes an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Close to 80% of people with diabetes will die from a heart attack or stroke 2.

Diabetes and eye disease

Retinopathy is a major long-term complication of diabetes. It affects about 1 in 4 people with diabetes 4. The development of retinopathy is strongly related to the length of time diabetes has been present and the degree of blood glucose control. Regular eye checks and treatment can help prevent retinopathy-caused blindness.


1 Diabetes Atlas. IDF, 2011
2 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013
3 Diabetes: Australian Facts. AIHW, 2011
4 Vision Australia Foundation
5 International Diabetes Federation, 2009

6 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013
7 NDSS, 2013
8 Prevention, Prevention, Prevention; A National Diabetes Strategy and Action Plan; Diabetes Australia, 2013
9 DiabCost. Diabetes Australia, 2003
10 DiabCo$t Australia: Type 1. Diabetes Australia, 2009