Common myths about diabetes that can hurt you

Diabetes is a common condition for which myths and misunderstandings are abundant. Unfortunately these myths can increase prejudice and damage the health of many in the population.

Diabetes is rare 

It is actually quite common. It affects:

  • 1 in 12 people worldwide
  • 1 in 19 people in Australia
  • 1.7 million people in Australia.

Unfortunately, these numbers are likely to increase as all forms of diabetes are rising at a rapid rate.


You just need to take tablets for diabetes

Proper management of diabetes requires a lot more than just taking prescribed medication. Lifestyle, including diet and exercise, are essential to managing blood sugar. The more you know about this the better as patients with more knowledge had significantly better control of their diabetes than patients with less knowledge 1.

Diabetics also need proactive care and regular check ups to check for complications.


Diabetes isn’t serious

Just because it can’t be seen, doesn’t mean it isn’t affecting you in a serious manner.

In fact, every year more people die from diabetes and  its associated complications than die from 4 different cancers (bowel, blood and lymph, prostate and breast) and road accidents combined 2.



Unmanaged high blood sugar can result in blindness, limb amputation, nerve damage and kidney failure. It also increases your risk of serious health conditions and is associated with deaths from coronary heart disease, cancer and stroke.

Unfortunately the fact that many people, including diabetics don’t recognise its seriousness, means  blood sugars are often too high. This makes the risk of problems much greater.


Diabetes is a ‘lifestyle disease’

Lifestyle change is important for many health reasons, including the prevention of diabetes. However in 30- 42% of type 2 cases lifestyle changes could not have avoided or even delayed the condition.

Your risk of diabetes includes many things other than your weight and lifestyle choices. Factors such as family history, where you were born and your ethnicity play a part. The presence of other conditions (including PCOS) and medications you are taking are also very important.

Blaming individuals for their condition can actually prevent people from getting diagnosed and does not help in the societal changes needed in order to address current diabetes rates.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition and can not be avoided by lifestyle changes.


I don’t have diabetes, I feel fine

It is estimated that half of people suffering from diabetes are completely unaware. In Australia, this is equal to 463, 530 people who currently have diabetes.

Although there are some diabetes symptoms they are subtle and largely unrecognised. Many people with diabetes do not recognise any symptoms and are diagnosed by blood test.

The longer that diabetes goes undiagnosed, the more damage it is doing to your body. Early diagnosis allows for your best chance for improved health in the future.