Department of Health

Diabetes mellitus (also called diabetes) is a common chronic condition characterised by high blood glucose (sugar) levels (Department of Health and Human Services 2018).

The two main types of diabetes are type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes and type 2 diabetes (Department of Health and Human Services 2018). 

Gestational diabetes is another form of the condition that affects women during pregnancy, although they have had no prior diagnosis of diabetes (Department of Health and Human Services 2018).

This condition usually abates after birth but is a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes later in life (Department of Health and Human Services 2018).

Type 1 diabetes

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas.

This means the affected individual is unable to produce enough insulin, which is an essential hormone for controlling glucose levels in the blood.

Type 1 diabetes most commonly begins in those under the age of 30 years. People with type 1 diabetes require replacement insulin injections several times a day for life.

Unlike type 2 diabetes (see below) it is not caused by lifestyle factors.

Type 1 diabetes accounts for approximately 10–15 per cent of cases of diabetes Victoria (Department of Health and Human Services 2018).

Type 2 diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, which occurs mostly in people 50 years of age or older.

Risk factors for type 2 diabetes include being overweight or obese and having a family history of the condition.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for around 85 per cent of all cases of diabetes. It is caused by insufficient production of insulin and/or the body becoming resistant to insulin levels in the blood.

In some cases of type 2 diabetes, appropriate diet and exercise can control the condition. More severe cases require treatment with medications, insulin injections or a combination of these (Department of Health and Human Services 2018).

In Victoria, 6.8 per cent of people have self-reported doctor-diagnosed diabetes (Department of Health and Human Services 2018).

The prevalence of diabetes increases with age, being highest in people 55 years of age or older. The prevalence decreases significantly with increasing total annual household income in men but not in women (Department of Health and Human Services 2018).

Find out more

The Victorian Population Health Survey 2016 has a section on diabetes. 

Access the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s diabetes pages.

Diabetes Australia has information on diabetes and its prevention


Department of Health and Human Services 2018, Victorian population health survey 2016, State Government of Victoria, Melbourne.

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Reviewed 04 August 2022


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