Diabetes 'monster' has grown by 905% in Queensland

NEARLY three-quarters of Australians underestimate the prevalence of diabetes and its major complications.

Diabetes Australia research showed three out of four Australians underestimated the number of people developing diabetes and about 60% did not realise the health complications that could come with the disease.

Diabetes Australia chief executive Greg Johnson said the research came as the health organisation launched an awareness campaign to show how many people developed the disease each day.

In Queensland, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes has risen 905% since 1995.

Diabetes Queensland chief executive Michelle Trute said the increase was nearly four times that of the rise in median house prices in the same 20-year period.

"We've seen plenty of political and media discussion this year about a dramatic increase in house prices but these figures show the urgent need for greater community awareness about the explosive growth in type 2 diabetes," Ms Trute said.

"Two decades ago, about 19,000 Queenslanders had type 2 diabetes. That has increased by a monstrous 905% to 191,000 people today."

Ms Trute said type 2 diabetes alone generated a $610 million hospital bill in Queensland.

"The Queensland community is in the midst of a type 2 diabetes catastrophe," she said.

"Of total patient days in Queensland hospitals, 16.5% are now diabetes-related."

The Diabetes Australia research revealed about 1.7 million Australians are believed to have one of the three forms of diabetes - juvenile, type 2 and gestational - including an estimated half million people who are unaware they have the disease.

Mr Johnson said the research showed, despite the massive growth rate of the disease, Australians tended to underestimate their own personal risks of contracting diabetes.

"Two out of three people older than 55 years or younger than 24 years stated that they are not at risk," Mr Johnson said.

The research showed many Australians were unaware diabetes could lead to health complications including heart attacks, stroke and anxiety.