Defeat Diabetes

Shocking new data: Type 2 diabetes tops causes of death for Aussies over 55

3 mins read

New data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has revealed type 2 diabetes is the leading factor contributing to deaths amongst older Australians. 

For the first time, the data includes 'contributory' causes of death, showing how various health conditions combine to impact mortality. 

  • Type 2 diabetes is the leading contributory factor to mortality for those aged 55-84.
  • For those aged 85+, dementia is the leading contributory factor of death. Dementia is increasingly referred to as type 3 diabetes due to its association with insulin resistance
  • Of the top 20 contributory conditions, for those aged 55+, more than half are associated with insulin resistance.

What are ‘contributory causes’ of death?

The AIHW data reveals that four in five deaths had more than one cause recorded, and nearly one-quarter of all deaths listed five or more contributory causes. 

Contributory causes are the conditions that significantly contributed to the death but were not in the chain of events leading to death. Typically, these causes relate to prior long-term health conditions.

This highlights the complexity of health conditions and the interrelated factors affecting mortality. The average number of causes per death increases with age, reflecting the accumulation of health issues as people age.

What links many of these health conditions? Insulin resistance.

Chronic diseases in older age groups

Until the age of 55, the main contributory causes of death are related to drugs, alcohol and depression. From age 55 onwards, chronic diseases become the main contributory causes of death. 

Among these, type 2 diabetes stands out as the leading contributor between the ages of 55 and 84. This pattern aligns with the broader trend where deaths at younger ages are primarily due to external causes, while deaths at older ages are mainly due to chronic diseases.

Type 2 diabetes, characterised by high blood glucose levels due to insulin resistance, contributes to various health complications, including cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, and neuropathy. These complications can significantly impact mortality, either as primary causes of death or as contributory factors aggravating other health conditions.

Insulin resistance in over 85s

For those aged 85 and older, dementia has emerged as the leading contributory factor of death. Dementia is increasingly referred to as type 3 diabetes due to its link with insulin resistance, the same underlying condition that leads to type 2 diabetes. 

This link underscores the huge impact of insulin resistance, connecting it to the leading causes of death in Australians aged 55 and older.

The rising burden of type 2 diabetes

The AIHW data confirms the growing burden of type 2 diabetes in Australia's aging population. It not only increases the risk of death but also complicates the management of other chronic diseases. As people age, the effect of multiple health issues, including diabetes, becomes greater, leading to higher mortality rates and more complex healthcare needs.

A proven solution

The need to prevent insulin resistance, or even reverse it once its impact takes hold has been proven many times

A low carb diet can improve insulin sensitivity and for many people, lead to remission of type 2 diabetes and improvement for other chronic health conditions.

The Defeat Diabetes Low Carb Program has helped more than 10,500 Australians improve their blood glucose levels, with 2 in 3 members able to return their blood glucose levels to the non-diabetes range. Our program, developed by leading Australian doctors and dietitians, shows you how to do this, with simple online lessons and weekly meal plans designed to keep blood glucose levels stable.


The fact that type 2 diabetes is a leading contributory cause of death for those aged 55 and above should be a wake-up call for policymakers, healthcare professionals, and anyone managing or at risk of this condition. Ignoring type 2 diabetes can lead to managing multiple health issues that, as the data shows, will inevitably impact life expectancy.

Don’t wait for a crisis to take control of your health. Join the Defeat Diabetes Low Carb Program today and start your journey to better health.

Related articles

By Defeat Diabetes

< 1 min read

6 quick-prep low carb winter meals
By Defeat Diabetes

4 mins read

Seed oil toxicity: Trend or truth?
Cheap as chips: Dr David Unwin’s low-tech solution for type 2 diabetes
Low carb: recommended by the 2023 Parliamentary Inquiry into Diabetes
By Defeat Diabetes

< 1 min read

6 budget-friendly low carb meals
New report from Diabetes Australia calls for urgent action on diabetes prevention

Join Australia's first doctor-led, evidence-based program transforming the lives of those with pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions.

  • Deep-dive lessons
  • Video masterclasses
  • Easy-to-read articles
  • 250+ low carb recipes
  • Weekly meal plans
  • Community support