If you are one of the approximately 1.3 million Australians that live with type 2 diabetes (Source: Diabetes Australia), there are various guidelines and resources that you can access to help you effectively manage the condition, and for those without type 2 diabetes, to help you to delay or prevent. 

What kinds of Australian type 2 diabetes guidelines are there (and what can we learn)?

There are various guidelines available from reputable sources on how to manage type 2 diabetes, including:

Australian dietary guidelines

The Australian Dietary Guidelines are a series of guidelines released by the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Records Research Council that promote a healthy diet. 

A healthy diet is incredibly important for preventing or managing type 2 diabetes, as it lowers your cholesterol and blood pressure, gives your body energy to exercise and keeps your waist measurement at a healthy level. These benefits help prevent health risks that can arise from diabetes.

A summary of the Australian Dietary Guidelines are;

  1. To maintain a healthy weight, enjoy nutritious foods and drinks that give you the energy to be physically active
  2. Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups (i.e. vegetables, fruit, grain foods, lean meats and poultry, dairy, etc.), as well as plenty of water
  3. Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol
  4. Care for your food; prepare and store it safely

Physical activity and exercise guidelines

Physical activity and exercise are a key component of a healthy lifestyle. Regardless of your age, staying active is good for physical and mental health. If you are looking to prevent or manage diabetes, exercise helps by;

  • Helping your insulin work more efficiently to break down blood glucose
  • Lowering your cholesterol levels
  • Helping you manage your weight and reduce your waist measurement

The Department of Health and Aged Care in the Australian Government have created a series of guides based on factors such as age and pre-existing conditions including:

We have summarised the information in this handy table below:

Physical Activity Muscle Training Sedentary Time Limit Sleep
(birth to 12 months)
Supervised floor play N/A Limited (and no screen time) 14 to 17 hours (until 3 months)12 to 16 hours 

(4 to 11 months)

Toddlers (1 to 2 years) 3 hours per day N/A Limited (and no screen time) 11 to 14 hours
Preschoolers(3 to 5 years) 3 hours per day N/A Limited (and no more than 1 hour per day screen time) 10 to 13 hours
Children and Young People(5 to 17 years) 1 hour per day (moderate to vigorous)

Several hours(light)
3 days per week Limited 9 to 11 hours
(5 to 13 years)8 to 10 hours (14 to 17 years)
Adults(18 to 64 years) 2.5 to 5 hours per week(moderate)1.25 to 2.5 hours per week


2 days per week Limited N/A
Older Australians (65 years and over) 30 minutes per day (moderate) 30 minutes per day  N/A N/A
Pregnant People 2.5 to 5 hours per week(moderate)1.25 to 2.5 hours per week (vigorous) 2 days per week Limited N/A
People with Disability or Chronic Conditions The guidelines specify that you should try to meet the physical requirements of your age group however you can. Any physical activity is better than none.However, if you are undertaking a new exercise, it is important to consult your doctor to ensure your safety.

What do I do with the information in these guidelines?

Once you have looked at the guidelines that  relate to you, you can apply them to your lifestyle to help you adopt and maintain healthy nutrition and exercise habits that will help you prevent risk factors or manage diabetes. 

However, it is strongly recommended that you also consult your doctor, as they can observe your medical history and determine whether or not your diet and exercise needs to be changed to better suit you. 

Can the Life! program help me prevent diabetes?

The Life! program has the resources you need to prevent diabetes. It is a free healthy lifestyle program that helps you improve your eating habits, increase your physical activity and manage stress. You can choose from a group course or the telephone health coaching service. 

Our experienced health professionals will help you make small changes to your lifestyle so that you can achieve your health goals and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

Life! is funded by the Victorian government and managed by Diabetes Victoria. You can check your eligibility for the program here.

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Elleni Kaias, Accredited Practicing Dietitian | Primary Care Engagement Lead

Kristie Cocotis, Head of Prevention and Health Promotion

Sarah Dubé, Strategy and Engagement Lead

Ria Cheripuram, Digital Communications Officer

Tegan Kohlman, Communications and Social Marketing Officer