Busting the Myths About Diabetes

Busting the Myths About Diabetes

Busting the Myths About Diabetes

Managing Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes can be overwhelming. It means testing your blood sugar. It means focusing on your food. It means staying physically active and having a healthy weight. It means handling your insulin and meds.

It can also be a struggle to teach others about the disease. There is so much misinformation. Even family and friends can act like they have all the answers when they don’t. We’re here to clear up the confusion. Let’s look at some of the most common myths about diabetes and set the record straight.

Myth 1: Diabetes occurs in overweight people only.
People of normal weight can have insulin resistance and get Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is often found in patients with a normal or even low weight. 

Myth 2: You look too healthy to have diabetes.
A person isn’t healthy just because they’re thin. And a person isn’t sick just because they’re overweight. What’s going on inside our bodies doesn’t show on the outside. Knowing your body is very important. When something doesn't feel right, see your doctor. Symptoms of diabetes can be subtle. You may not notice them. That’s why it’s important to have yearly health check-ups and get screened if your doctor has concerns for diabetes. 

Myth 3: You’re too young to have diabetes. 
Among the two types of diabetes, Type 1 diabetes most often begins in children and young adults. Still, Type 2, which used to be known as ‘adult-onset diabetes’ is becoming more common in children and young people who struggle with obesity or  have a family history of diabetes.

Myth 4: People cause their diabetes by eating too much sugar or unhealthy foods.
When someone gets diabetes, it is not their fault. Diabetes is a complex health problem. Family history, lifestyle and other less-understood factors all play a role. With Type 2 diabetes, the body may grow resistant to insulin or the pancreas can stop making enough insulin.  

While there are some known family history and lifestyle risks, it’s still difficult to predict who will develop diabetes. Rather than blame, we should support people with pre-diabetes and diabetes. We can encourage them to learn about it and take steps to cut their risk factors.

Myth 5: Diabetes can be “cured” using certain products, diets or exercises.
You may find all kinds of products that claim to help or even cure diabetes. It’s unlikely that these products work. Worse, they may keep you from a recommended program. If you are thinking about changing your diabetes care, discuss it with your doctor so you can agree on a plan that is medically safe.

Myth 6: Type 1 diabetes is worse than Type 2 diabetes.
Each person's situation is different. The exact type of diabetes a person may have is less important than managing blood sugar levels.

To do so, people living with diabetes need to:

  • Understand the effects of food and physical activity
  • Be aware of their bodies
  • Know how to use insulin if prescribed
  • Use medicine effectively
  • Talk to their health care team
  • Find other support when needed

Proper care cuts the risk for complications.

Sources: Healthy Livingleaving site icon American Diabetes Association, 2022; Diabetes Myths and Factsleaving site icon MedlinePlus, 2022; Diabetes Basicsleaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021.

Originally published 11/7/2016: Revised 2019, 2022