Increasing a person’s risk of heart attack, stroke, blindness and kidney failure, diabetes is a serious condition affecting more and more Australian adults every year. The latest findings from Roy Morgan Research show that the number of people diagnosed with some form of diabetes increased from 915,000 to more than 1.2 million between 2007 and 2015, a growth driven primarily by a rise in Type 2 diabetes.
Medical experts believe that type 2 diabetes—which accounts for just over 90% of all Aussies 18+ diagnosed with diabetes (some 1.1 million people)—can sometimes be prevented or controlled through lifestyle factors such as maintaining a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI), doing regular exercise and eating a good diet. Yet our data reveals that people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely as the average Australian to be classified as obese (54% vs 26%) and markedly less likely to participate in regular or occasional sport/exercise (34% vs 47%).
A more positive picture emerges when it comes to diet and attitudes to health and fitness: Aussie adults with type 2 diabetes are slightly more likely than average to eat fresh fruit and fish in any given seven-day period and about average for consumption of fresh vegetables.
Some telling differences: people with Type 2 diabetes vs average Australian
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2014 – June 2015 (n=51,371). Base: Australians 18+
People with type 2 diabetes also display a greater tendency to agree that ‘a low-fat diet is a way of life for me’ (79% vs the population average of 65%) and are less likely to visit fast-food restaurants in an average three months (37% vs 44%).
Older and poorer
The Diabetes Australia website cites age as a risk factor for getting type 2 diabetes, and the latest Roy Morgan data supports this, revealing that 83% of type 2 diabetics are aged 50 years or older (one of the least likely age groups to engage in regular physical activity, as it happens).
More concerning is the elevated incidence of type 2 diabetes among Australians from the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum*. More than half of people with the condition are from the less affluent E and FG quintiles, while only 11% are from the well-off AB quintile. As we have seen previously, a correlation exists between wealth and health, with people from disadvantaged circumstances often having limited access to health education, nutritious food and quality health care.
Socio-economic breakdown of Australian adults with type 2 diabetes
Source: Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), July 2014 – June 2015 (n=1,423). * NB: A note on socio-economic quintiles: Roy Morgan Single Source collects thousands of data points from each survey respondent, allowing us to segment the Australian population in many ways. Socio-economic quintiles segment the population based on education, income and occupation, with AB being the top-scoring quintile and FG being the lowest.
Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:
“The rising incidence of diabetes among Australian adults is cause for concern: some endocrinologists are even calling it an epidemic. Our figures show a 33% growth since 2007—and that’s just among people who know they have the condition. Obviously, this presents a growing challenge to Australia’s already stretched healthcare system.
“Type 2 diabetes is by far the more common form, responsible for much of the growth in incidence in recent years. Although medical experts recommend specific lifestyle measures to control or even prevent type 2 diabetes, it seems that not everyone is listening.
“With older and less affluent Aussies most at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, it makes sense for health bodies and/or government departments to devise a tailored campaign to raise awareness among these vulnerable groups, in an effort to minimise the spread of the condition and encourage a healthier lifestyle.”