Diabetes Type 2

Misunderstandings about diabetes

There are 3.5 million people in the UK who have diabetes and yet some people we spoke to said that diabetes was poorly understood by society as a whole (Diabetes UK 2016). Several people expressed the view that they wanted some commonly-held myths and misconceptions about diabetes to be corrected. 

The current media portrayal of diabetes as a 'disease of fat people' was said by some people to be stigmatising and potentially damaging to their morale. Several people felt that the links made in the media between 'the obesity crisis' and diabetes was too simplistic. While they acknowledged that obesity was one of several possible contributory causes of diabetes, they said it was wrong for obesity to be portrayed as the main cause of diabetes. Many people said that they knew people with diabetes who were not overweight or obese.

Many felt that the media discusses type 2 diabetes in an exaggerated and alarming way. Some felt that a more constructive approach would be to promote healthy lifestyles for all rather than sensationalising the potential harm of diabetes to certain groups of people.

Another myth about diabetes that needed to be put right, according to some people, was the mistaken assumption that people with diabetes should never eat sugar in any form, and that having diabetes was a matter of avoiding biscuits, puddings and sweets. Several people said that it might help prevent diabetes if young people could be better informed about food.

There was also confusion, even among some of our respondents about the difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Some suspected that type 2 was less serious than type 1, and that it was only people who had type 1 who were prescribed insulin. 

Several men expressed the view that there was 'too much' emphasis on the possible complications of diabetes such as retinopathy and neuropathy (eye and feet problems). One man said he considered much of the information he had received as 'government propaganda' aimed at controlling his lifestyle; and another man said he felt that if people were repeatedly told they might lose sensation in their feet, they would begin to imagine it for themselves. 

Last reviewed March 2016.

Last updated March 2016.


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