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Diabetes isn’t caused by a sweet tooth – but nearly half of people think it is

Nearly half (42 per cent) of people still think eating too much sugar causes diabetes and a quarter (25 per cent) of people object to people with diabetes injecting insulin in public, according to a survey by Diabetes UK.

Diabetes UK is concerned that findings from our Diabetes Myths survey, which questioned 2,032 people, show that some beliefs are still worryingly widespread.  We want to kick start Diabetes Week (13 – 19 June) by raising awareness of diabetes and dispelling the myths that still surround the condition. 

Simon O’Neill, Director of Care, Information and Advocacy Services at Diabetes UK, explains: “These sorts of myths are not helpful and can lead to discrimination and bullying. Sadly, we often hear of children who are bullied at school because their peers believe they’ve brought their diabetes on themselves from eating too many sweets. People with diabetes have a hard enough time living with their condition without being made to feel ashamed or different from their peers.”

Fact over fiction

Diabetes is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Sugar does not cause diabetes. However, eating a diet high in sugar can cause people to become overweight which increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

O’Neill continues: “Diabetes UK is appalled that some people object to injecting in public. For people who treat their diabetes with insulin, this is not a choice - insulin keeps them alive and injections have to be administered at specific times. People should be able to inject in public without fear of being mocked or shunned by those around them.”

The survey also discovered that 50 per cent of people think that people with diabetes benefit from food and drink labelled “suitable for diabetics”.

The truth about diabetes

O’Neill explains: “Diabetic foods have no extra nutritional value and are more expensive. Diabetes UK advises that people with diabetes have the same healthy, balanced diet (that is low in fat, sugar and salt) as people without the condition. We are calling for an end to the use of the terms ‘diabetic foods’ and ‘suitable for diabetics’ on food labels altogether.

“Diabetes UK is hoping to destroy these myths by shedding light on them and replacing them with the truth - it is vital that people with and without diabetes have accurate information about the condition.”

Other diabetes myths include:

• Type 2 diabetes is mild diabetes• If you have diabetes you can’t drive• People with diabetes can’t play sport

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