One million risk health by keeping diabetes secret

Monday 13 June 2011

A Diabetes UK survey has found that nearly one million people in the UK could be risking their health and experiencing emotional distress by keeping their diabetes a secret.

As a result Diabetes UK is raising awareness of the importance of talking about diabetes during Diabetes Week this year (12 to 18 June) and we are encouraging anyone having difficulty opening up about their condition to call our Careline service for help.

A quarter of people fear discrimination

Over 3,700 people with diabetes took part in the survey and it was found that one in three had kept, or were still keeping, their diabetes a secret. Half of these people felt that not talking about their diabetes had impacted on how they manage their condition and over a third felt this had affected their physical or emotional health.

A girl at school worrying that she is being talked about27 per cent had kept their condition a secret for fear of discrimination or bullying, 59 per cent had kept their diabetes a secret at work and 56 per cent had also kept their diabetes a secret from their friends.

Reasons for doing so included not wanting diabetes to affect employment chances, or people assuming the condition developed as a result of an unhealthy diet.

Many survey respondents commented that they missed insulin injections or delayed testing their blood glucose to avoid drawing attention to themselves. This could be putting their health at risk as badly managed blood glucose levels can increase the risk of long- and short-term complications.

Learning to live with diabetes can be challenging

Barbara Young, Chief Executive at Diabetes UK, said: “We have to ask why so many people with diabetes keep it a secret. Learning to live with and manage diabetes is challenging enough without the physical and psychological impact of such a burden. It is hugely concerning that the health and well-being of so many people could be at risk as a result of discrimination or prejudice.

“There are 2.8 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK who need friends, family, employers and the public to understand how common diabetes is becoming and how serious it can be if people aren’t supported to manage their condition.

A member of the Careline team“We believe all people should receive enough support to help them manage their diabetes and that's why services such as our Diabetes UK Careline are vital. Simply knowing you have someone to talk to when you need it most can make all the difference to help people better manage their diabetes and reduce their risk of developing devastating complications.”

Do you find it difficult opening up about your diabetes?

If you find it hard to talk about the condition, or are experiencing difficulties as a result of your diabetes, then we are here to help. Call the Diabetes UK Careline and talk to our trained counsellors, or email careline@diabetes.org.uk.