Objective: To estimate the prevalence of self-reported diabetes in a representative population sample in Australia; to identify major differences in prevalence by State and Territory and by geographic origin; and to compare trends in prevalence over time.
Design: and setting: Analysis of data collected by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in the 1989-90 National Health Survey. The sampling frame (22,202 households and 54,241 people) ensured adequate representation from each State and Territory in Australia.
Results: Prevalences of self-reported diabetes/high blood sugar levels were 1.9% for males and 2.0% for females over all ages; 3.1% for men and 2.9% for women aged over 25 years; and 8.1% for men and 6.9% for women aged over 65 years. Interstate differences of borderline significance were found and will require validation in larger samples. Age-standardised prevalences were higher in subjects born in Southern Europe and lower in those born in Western Europe compared with Australian-born subjects. Prevalences were high in households where the language spoken was other than English. The frequency of self-reported diabetes appears to be rising.
Conclusions: Australia has comparatively low total prevalences of self-reported diabetes/high blood sugar levels. High prevalences subsections exist, including the elderly and certain migrant groups