Around one in five adults with diabetes do not know they have the condition, according to a report from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Findings from the Australian Health Survey: Biomedial Results for Chronic Diseases also showed that a further three per cent of adults were at high risk of diabetes. Dr Paul Jelfs, head of the Social, Health & Labour division at the ABS, said for every four people diagnosed with diabetes, another three were found to be at high risk.

Being overweight carries greater risk too as obese people were seven times as likely as those who were of normal weight or underweight to have the condition, Dr Jelfs said.

The findings also revealed that many people with diabetes had signs of other chronic conditions with nearly one in four with albuminuria, an early indicator of kidney disease, and around half had lower than normal levels of good cholesterol.

It was a similar result for Australians with high cholesterol with one in three adults, or 5.6 million people with high total cholesterol levels,  although only one in 10 people in this group were aware they had the condition.

While cardiovascular tests in the survey results showed that the majority of people aged 45 and over were at risk of heart disease, the prognosis was not much better for younger people. Nearly half had at least one risk factor of either high total cholesterol, high ‘bad’ cholesterol, low ‘good’ cholesterol or high triglycerides, Dr Jelfs added.