The Australian diabetes, obesity and lifestyle study

19 August 2013

This is the first national Australian longitudinal population-based study to examine the prevalence and incidence of diabetes and its complications, as well as high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney disease.

Executive summary

Diabetes mellitus has become one of the most common non-communicable diseases in the world. It results in substantial morbidity and mortality, primarily from cardiovascular complications, eye and kidney diseases and limb amputations. It now represents one of the most challenging public health problems of the 21st century.

Australia is a nation that provides a high proportion of its population with the opportunities for good health. Life expectancy is high, but modernization and industrialization have led to a reduction in physical activity and an increase in the consumption of energy-rich foods. Consequently, lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes are increasing rapidly, and leading to an array of adverse outcomes.

The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle study (AusDiab) is the first national Australian longitudinal population-based study to examine the prevalence and incidence of diabetes and its complications, as well as high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney disease.

Identified as being the only national study of its kind to have been undertaken in a developed nation, the AusDiab study began in 1999-2000, when over 11,000 adults across the country took part in the study. These individuals were invited to take part in two follow-up studies, the first in 2004-2005, and the second in 2011-2012.

The 1999–2000 baseline survey collected information about diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and kidney disease, and about risk factors for each of these conditions. The baseline survey enabled the measurement of the number of Australians with these diseases or risk factors at that point in time. It provided an estimate of how many people in Australia had diabetes and other conditions in 1999–2000.

The two follow-up surveys, undertaken five and 12 years after the baseline study, have provided the opportunity to investigate the number of new cases (incidence) arising in the Australian population for each of these conditions. This is possible because people who came to the baseline survey have been followed-up to investigate who did and did not develop these conditions. The most recent follow-up in 2011-2012 added measures of cognitive function and physical disability.

This report presents the main findings from the AusDiab 12-year follow-up based on data collected from people who participated in both the 1999–2000 baseline survey and at least one of the two follow-up surveys.

Annual incidence was estimated from the number of individuals developing each of the diseases and risk factors studied over the 12-year period between surveys.

The findings with respect to the key matters of interest are presented in separate chapters focusing on: disorders of glucose tolerance; weight and obesity status; blood pressure; the metabolic syndrome; kidney disease; and physical activity.

The final chapter presents total mortality data over a 12-year period for the various diseases and risk factors.

Authored by SK Tanamas, DJ Magliano, B Lynch, P Sethi, L Willenberg, KR Polkinghorne, S Chadban, D Dunstan, and JE Shaw.

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Suggested Citation

Stephanie K Tanamas, 2013, The Australian diabetes, obesity and lifestyle study, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, viewed 27 July 2016, <http://apo.org.au/node/35278>.

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