The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) study is an ongoing national, longitudinal, population-based study designed to examine the prevalence, natural history and risk factors of diabetes, pre-diabetes, heart disease and renal disease in Australia. The AusDiab study is one of the few national diabetes surveys to use an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT), and the only study of its kind in the developed world. Therefore, it is an important resource not only to Australia but also to the rest of the world.
The AusDiab study resulted from observations of a global pattern suggestive of an emerging diabetes epidemic, about which little was known in Australia. The project began with a baseline study of 11,247 Australians conducted throughout 1999 and 2000 that provided benchmark national data on the prevalence of diabetes, obesity, hypertension and kidney disease. The second phase of the AusDiab study, completed in December 2005, was a five-year follow-up of the cohort established in 2000 and provided a unique picture of the incidence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and kidney disease over five years. The planned 10-year follow-up of the AusDiab cohort will also involve a new prevalence survey in order to track changes in the magnitude of the diabetes epidemic in Australia.
Local Needs for Data and a National Survey
The AusDiab study was the first national Australian study to measure the prevalence of diabetes using an OGTT. Previous estimates of diabetes prevalence in Australia came from regular self-reported National Health Surveys,1 a National Heart Foundation survey in 1983 that measured fasting blood glucose but was conducted only in large cities,2 and two studies that used an OGTT – one in the rural Western Australian town of Busselton in 19813 and the other a small study from rural Victoria.4 The national prevalence of undiagnosed diabetes, as well as the pre-diabetic states of impaired fasting glucose (IFG) and impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), could only be guessed at when the first AusDiab study was conducted. It had been over a decade since any national blood survey had been conducted in Australia to allow estimation of the prevalence of dyslipidaemia. The impetus for a national diabetes study increased with the decision by Australian health ministers in 1996 to include diabetes as one of six national health priority areas, the signing by the health ministers in 1999 of the Australian Diabetes Declaration and the endorsement of the National Diabetes Strategy 2000–2004. Politicians, health planners and researchers had all recognised the need for accurate diabetes data and the AusDiab study was established in order to fill this need.
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