The number of Australians diagnosed with some form of diabetes increased from 915,000 to more than 1.2 million between 2007 and 2015, according to figures released by Roy Morgan Research.

The new findings reveal that the 33 percent growth was driven primarily by a rise in type 2 diabetes, which accounts for over 90 percent of all Australians aged 18 years old and above who were diagnosed with diabetes.

The research also says that 83 percent of type 2 diabetics are aged 50 years or older, an age group that is considered the least likely to engage in regular physical activity. This finding supports data from the Diabetes Australia website, which cites age as a risk factor for acquiring type 2 diabetes.

It was also found that type 2 diabetes is more prevalent among Australians from the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum. More than half of people with the condition come from less affluent backgrounds, while only 11 percent are considered to be well-off individuals.

A correlation exists between wealth and health, according to Roy Morgan Research, since people from disadvantaged circumstances often have limited access to health education, nutritious food and quality health care.

Some findings in the research had a positive note, however, as it was revealed that Australian 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 consume fresh vegetables. Seventy-nine percent of type 2 diabetics also disclosed that a low-fat diet is a way of life for them, while 37 percent said they are less likely to visit fastfood restaurants in an average of three months.

However, it still emerged in the report that people with type 2 diabetes are twice as likely as the average Australian to be classified as obese and are less likely to participate in regular or occasional sports activities.

“The rising incidence of diabetes among Australian adults is cause for concern: some endocrinologists are even calling it an epidemic. 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,” said Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan Research.

According to Diabetes Australia, type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition in which the body becomes resistant to the normal effects of insulin. While its cause remains to be unknown, type 2 diabetes is associated with modifiable lifestyle risk factors. It can be managed with a combination of regular physical activity, healthy eating and weight reduction.

If left unmanaged, the condition can lead to complications such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, limb amputation, depression, anxiety and blindness, Diabetes Australia reports.

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