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Diabetes in South Africa: the facts

If you look on any diabetes website from the USA, you’ll see that they have facts and figures up about how many people with diabetes there are in the country, what kind of diabetes they have (Type 1 diabetes or Type 2 diabetes), where they live and what kind of age, race, and family history they have. This information is obviously very useful both in helping people to deal with diabetes on a day-to-day basis, and in finding a cure for diabetes.

In South Africa, though, we know very little about the people who have diabetes in our country.

  • According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) the estimated number of people with diabetes in South Africa is around 840 000, but other studies say there may be as many as 1.5 million diabetics.
  • The World Diabetes Foundation says that in developing countries (like South Africa), less than half of people with diabetes are diagnosed. Without diagnosis and treatment, complications from diabetes rise at an alarming rate. This same foundation says that 85% of those with diabetes in South Africa are undiagnosed!
  • Most at risk of developing diabetes in South Africa are the black community because of rapid lifestyle and cultural changes, and people of Indian descent because of their hereditary genes and diet.
  • 90% of people with diabetes in South Africa have Type 2 diabetes; 10% have Type 1 diabetes.
  • And, most scary of all, in South Africa 1 in 5 people over the age of 35 have type 2 diabetes; more that 50% are unaware of this.

That’s one of the reasons we wanted to start this Sweet Life community: to provide a space for all people with diabetes in South Africa to come together so that we can start spreading the word about the condition. We also want to know where all these 840 000 diabetics in South Africa are – how they’re living, what kind of diabetes they have, who they are! So if you’re reading this and you have diabetes, or you know someone who has diabetes, or you work with people who have diabetes, please sign up to join our community, and ask them to do the same. Just click here!

If we work together, we can fill in this big question mark about diabetes in South Africa.

What to read next
Join South Africans with Diabetes on Facebook

Join our diabetes community


  1. For a change a blog that has some useful content and some better tips and tricks. Thanks FJK Botha

  2. That is really interesting, You’re a very professional blogger. I’ve joined your rss feed and stay up for in search of extra of your great post. Also, I have shared your website in my social networks

  3. Warren Warren

    Hi, I am looking for more detailed numbers on diabetes in South Africa. I am wanting to develop a diabetic friendly product and have noticed the lack of choice in the market & the price!

    • Hi Warren,
      Unfortunately there is a lack of information on diabetes in South Africa – you might want to contact one of the diabetes associations for more detailed info?
      Good luck!

      • Stuart Stuart

        Hi Warren
        There is a real shortage of Diabetic friendly products. For your interest we make an ice cream that is Low GI and Diabetes SA approved. It’s getting good reviews. It’s creamy, sweet and tasty. It took three and half years to develop. You can buy it at the Wellness Warehouse stores around in Cape Town. Four flavours so far available in 175 ml and 500ml tubs – Vanilla, Cinnamon, Mint and Strawberry. It retails for between R16.99 for a small tub and R29.99 for a large. We hope to roll it out to the rest of the country soon. Send me a mail if you want any more information. We hope to be at the Diabetes SA walk in Cape Town in November. All the best, Stuart

  4. Naomi Naomi

    It’s alarming to see that SA has very little resources and info on this decease. I rely on the US websites and online mags to educate myself and befriend people from there to help me since im newly diagnosed. Stuart the ice cream you talking about – Is it a local product and is it only sold at the Wellness Warehouse?

    • Hi Naomi!
      I agree – that’s why we’re trying to create a local information resource – it helps to know people who are in the same situation and in the same country! Have you joined our Facebook page? Diabetic South Africans (
      Welcome to the community!

  5. Jan Hohannes Masango Jan Hohannes Masango

    082 788 9544 JJ Masango i am more than prepared to help spreading tbe message to the South Africans,my adress is 649 block DD,Soshanguve,0001

  6. […] South Africa, the International Diabetes Foundation estimated that 840 000 people have diabetes. However it is likely that less than half of the cases are diagnosed. This […]

  7. solly solly

    Hi’ Guys

    Just last week i sadly burried my mom who gave up to life due to Diabate.

    I am starting to reseach more on this condition

    And i would like to open a foundation to educate South Africans about Diabete

    • Ah, so sorry for your loss, Solly! Please let us know if you’d like us to share any information about your foundation… Or if you’d like to partner with us to share information?

  8. naz naz

    Hi. I have been researching statistics on diabetes. I was shocked to hear on that Bantee advert that 55% of South Africans have diabetes. I couldn’t believe this. Is there truth in this?

    • Absolutely not. What is the Bantee ad, where did you see it?

  9. […] food. However, how aware are we of what we are consuming and putting into our bodies? According to Sweet Life magazine 1 out of 5 South Africans over the age of 35 have type 2 diabetes and more than 50% of them are […]

  10. […] Diabetes in South Africa: the facts – South African diabetes. – 90% of people with diabetes in South Africa have Type 2 diabetes; 10% have Type 1 diabetes. Hi. I have been researching statistics on diabetes. […]

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.