Deakin Uni professor busts the biggest diabetes myths


Sigma trials diabetes pilot; index finger with pinprick of blood as in diabetes testing
small drop of blood on the tip of a finger

When it comes to misunderstood medical conditions in Australia, type 2 diabetes is hard to beat, so a Deakin University professor is busting some diabetes myths for consumers.

Despite more than one million Australians having type 2 diabetes, and around 280 new cases diagnosed every day, many people struggle to separate fact from myth, says Deakin University professor of behavioural and social research in diabetes Jane Speight .

National Diabetes Week, which begins Sunday 12 July, is a great time to raise awareness about the realities of living with diabetes, says Prof Speight.

“Type 2 diabetes is fast becoming Australia’s number one burden of disease, yet there continues to be a lack of awareness among people, both with and without diabetes, about the condition,” says Prof Speight, who is also the Foundation Director of The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes.

“Misconceptions can impact on how people manage their condition and how they feel about it.

“It is important that people with diabetes and those around them realise it is a serious condition, and it can be challenging to manage it well. But there is plenty of support available if they need it.”

Some of the most common myths about diabetes include:

  • People with type 2 diabetes are to blame for their condition and bring it on themselves.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, heart attack, kidney disease and amputations (Prof Speight highlights that it’s poorly managed diabetes that causes these).
  • Diabetes is only serious if someone takes insulin.
  • Using insulin means I have failed to manage my type 2 diabetes.
  • People with diabetes should be able to take it in their stride.

 

Professor Speight says it is just as important for people without diabetes to be aware of the facts of the condition.

“Most people these days know someone who has type 2 diabetes,” she says.

“We can all support our family and friends who have diabetes by encouraging them to self-manage their diabetes as best they can; to set realistic blood glucose targets and not view lapses as a sign of failure; to take their medications as recommended; and to seek out information and support services if things are becoming too frustrating or distressing.”

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