‘Diabetes myth’ warning from leading charity

Monday 14th June, 2010

A leading charity has conducted a survey in an effort to “destroy the myths” about diabetes.

Diabetes UK surveyed over 2,000 people to mark Diabetes Week (which runs up until June 19th) and the results have cause for concern.

A quarter of people who participated in the survey objected to seeing diabetics inject insulin in public while 42 per cent thought the condition was caused by eating too much sugar.

Director of care, information and advocacy services at Diabetes UK, Simon O’Neill said they wanted to destroy the myths about the condition and the charity was appalled by the findings.

“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,” said Mr O’Neill.

Other results from the survey included 50 per cent of participants thinking that people with diabetes would benefit from food and drink labelled as ‘suitable for diabetics’.

In response, Mr O’Neill told The Independent that: “We are calling for an end to the use of the terms ‘diabetic foods’ and ‘suitable for diabetics’ on food labels altogether.

“Diabetic foods have no extra nutritional value and are more expensive. Diabetes UK advises that people with diabetes have the same healthy, balanced diet as people without the condition.”

Diabetes UK stated that the condition is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors and not by excessive sugar consumption.

The charity was also concerned about the psychological effects diabetes can have on children. Diabetic schoolchildren are often bullied by their peers because of a lack of fundamental understanding about the condition.

“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,” said Mr O’Neill.

“These sorts of myths are not helpful and can lead to discrimination and bullying.

“People with diabetes have a hard enough time living with their condition without being made to feel ashamed or different from their peers.”

Other myths about diabetes included people with diabetes could not drive, cannot play sport and Type 2 diabetes was “mild diabetes”.



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