Diabetes: facts and myths

ADVERTISING FEATURE

There is no such thing as “mild” diabetes - all types are serious and can lead to complications if not well managed. Diabetes can affect quality of life and reduce life expectancy, so it is important to follow medical advice.

There is no such thing as “mild” diabetes - all types are serious and can lead to complications if not well managed. Diabetes can affect quality of life and reduce life expectancy, so it is important to follow medical advice.

There are many myths about diabetes which can make separating fact from fiction difficult.

To cut through the confusion, Diabetes Australia has broken down some common misconceptions.

Myth: All diabetes is the same. There are several types of diabetes. The most common are type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes. Each type has different causes and may be managed in different ways but once someone has any type of diabetes, it requires daily management..

Myth: Diabetes can be prevented. Type 1 is an autoimmune condition - it cannot be prevented and there is no cure. Its cause is still unknown. Evidence shows prevention programs can help prevent type 2 diabetes in up to 58 per cent of cases. It has no single cause but there are well-established risk factors although your risk of developing diabetes is affected by things you cannot change, such as family history and ethnicity.

This advertising feature is sponsored by the following business. Click the link to learn more:

Myth: You must be overweight or obese to develop diabetes.​ Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes but not a direct cause. Some people who are overweight may not develop type 2 diabetes while others of healthy weight will. Type 1 diabetes is not preventable and not associated with weight, physical inactivity or any other lifestyle factors.

Myth: You only get type 1 diabetes when you’re young. The onset of type 1 diabetes occurs most frequently in people under 30.

However, research suggests almost half of those who develop it are diagnosed over the age of 30.

Myth: You only get type 2 diabetes when you’re old. Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adults over 45 but is increasingly occurring in younger age groups, including children.

Myth: People with diabetes can’t eat dessert. Because diabetes affects blood glucose levels, many think they need to avoid foods containing sugar. But, combined with exercise and as part of a healthy meal plan, they can eat sweets and desserts. Moderation is the key.

Myth: People with type 1 diabetes can’t play sports or exercise. Many Australian sport champions have type 1 diabetes. These include Jack Fitzpatrick, who plays for the Hawthorn AFL club.

Myth: No one in my family has diabetes so I don’t have to worry. Family history is just one risk factor for type 2 diabetes.

Myth: Only people with type 1 diabetes need insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition – 50 percent of people with it will need insulin after 6-10 years of diagnosis because the pancreas produces less insulin over time. 

Taking medication when required can result in fewer long-term complications and is part of managing type 2 diabetes.